The Bible has so much to say about our words. Take these verses for Example:
Colossians 4:6 says to, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” In the same way that we season our food to add taste and make it even more enjoyable, so we are to season our words with grace.
James 1:19 tells is to be, “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
Proverbs 16:24 tells us that, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
As important as these verses are in describing our verbal words, they may actually be even more important in describing our written words as well. We live in a culture today where we use written words far more than we use verbal words. Most of our conversations today are done through technology and social media. Emailing, texting, tweeting and posting results in more of our words being communicated than ever before and I believe that we need to be even more careful about our words communicated through these avenues.
Speech experts tell us that only 7% of our communication is our words. 38% of our communication is our tone while 55% of our communication is our non-verbal. That’s what makes written communication so difficult. When you email, text, tweet and post, those who read your comments miss most of your communication. Folks, listen, that is a recipie for disaster. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against emailing, texting, tweeting and posting. In fact, I do all of these regularly. What I have learned, though, is that there are many times when speaking with our words will always be more beneficial that communicating through technology and social media. Let me give you four examples.
When it is CONFRONTATIONAL! When you confront someone it is crucial that they see more than your words. To get your full communication they also need to hear your tone and your voice. Any time I have ever tried to confront someone through writing, it has always been like pouring gas on a fire.
When it is COMPLICATED! If what you are communicating is complicated to the person reading it, you can be pretty much assured that they will not comprehend it fully – especially if they are only getting 7% of the communication you need to give to them.
When it is SENSITIVE! If what you are communicating includes very sensitive material, written communication is certainly not the best option. For example, no one wants to hear about the death of someone they knew and felt close to through an email, text, tweet or Facebook post.
When it is CONFIDENTIAL! I think sometimes we forget that sending an email is like sending a postcard in the mail – we can never be sure of its confidentiality. Earlier in my ministry, when email was pretty new, I would send an email update every week to my entire church. I also sent weekly email updates to just my board. One day I decided to communicate a very private issue regarding someone in our church with my board who I felt needed to know the issue involved. Unfortunately, I hit the wrong mailing list and accidentally sent that very confidential information about this particular person to the entire church. One thing I learned is that, like my spoken words, once I hit “send” I can’t take my written words back.
James 4:6 likens our tongues to a fire that can cause great damage and must be controlled. James 3:9 tells us that with the same tongue we can bless God and curse man. The same is true with our emails, texts, tweets and posts. Our tongue is directly connected to our technology.