How do you prefer to communicate with other people?

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Verdandi
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21 Mar 2011, 3:59 pm

All of these involve language, but there's no reason for responses to be restricted to that.

For me, worst to best is:

Handwriting -> My handwriting is painful at the best of times, and becomes harder and harder to read the more I write. If I can at all avoid it, I do not use it. Its only advantage over verbal for me is that it can be referred to later.

Telephone/VOIP/Teamspeak/Ventrilo -> I always feel like I'm pushing myself to maintain a phone conversation. This has not always been true, but has been the case for several years. It's not a matter of anxiety (or not always a matter of anxiety) but a matter of cognitive discomfort, often leading into a headache. I mentioned in another post that I felt like I was pushing myself beyond what I am normally able to do to have a conversation over the phone, and I definitely need time afterward to decompress. It feels kind of like socializing with 2-3 people for a few hours. Also, verbal communication issues described in the next point.

Face to face verbal -> I do not like talking to people in general. I get similar cognitive discomfort to phone conversations but there seems to be less pressure generally to hold up a conversation when technology's not involved. With one person things go okay and if I stop talking at least the other person can see me, and thus there's perhaps less pressure to be verbally "present." Still, I find that it's so much easier for me to simply respond to what people say (filling in my side of the conversation with appropriate responses) than it is for me to say what I need to say. Actually speaking my mind takes far more effort, and is difficult to sustain with people who are quick to sidetrack into something else, and then it is very easy for me to just follow the sidetrack. A lot of the time (especially if two or more other people are involved), it's even easier to say nothing at all and let the conversation flow around me. The added pressure of not understanding facial expressions, body language, or nuances in spoken language (thus literal interpretations) only complicate matters.

The exception is, of course, talking about my interests, at which point I feel like I become verbally fluent and enthusiastic, but the conversation is not very reciprocal at all - I talk at people.

Text Chat -> If I keep it down to 1-2 people (separate conversations) this is easier than the above, and is slightly asynchronous, giving me the ability to process language more and not worry about nonverbal cues. I still tend toward literal usage and interpretations. As I add more people to chat with, it becomes more overloading and I start losing the ability to deal with individual conversations because I am processing multiple conversations. Further, some people have chat habits that are demanding and overloading. One particular that tends to push me hard is asking "huh?" or even just a ? when I've sent a long sentence or paragraph. I can't interpret this question at all - what part of what I said was confusing? Yet there are several people I've chatted with who do this. Another are people who send multiple short messages instead of longer messages. Or complain when I don't respond immediately to their messages.

I tend to accumulate people to chat with over time - I might start with 2-3, but end up with a dozen or more, and this is when the overloads really start happening, and when I end up shutting chat off entirely. This past time I was pretty surprised that, despite the fact that a lot of the chatting I do is pretty pleasant, I cut down my stress and overload levels significantly. I knew it was taking up a lot of energy, but I didn't realize it was having such an impact. Group chat can be even worse, as multiple people are in one conversation, and it can become difficult to even sustain a conversational thread with people changing the subject every time they hit enter or whatever.

Telephone, verbal, and chat can be turned completely upside down for me, too, if someone springs a surprise subject - especially an unpleasant one. If it's out of left field, all I can really do is fall back on scripts and hope I don't accidentally agree to something I disagree with, and maybe manage to process the whole thing afterward. These are hugely stressful for me.

Asynchronous Text (forums, e-mail, blogs) -> There's very little pressure to communicate at this point. I can read a post, process it at my speed, and provide more useful, substantial responses rather than feel pressured to give an immediate response that could have more to do with social scripts and memorized phrases than anything else. These three aren't the same, but I grouped them together because a lot of things are fairly similar about them for me.

Forums, blogs, mailing lists, etc. have the most potential pressure, as there are multiple people reading and responding to threads/posts, and a few careless comments can easily get a handful of people lining up for their pound of flesh before you have a chance to clarify yourself or back off from communicating something you may not have intended.

Private communications - PMs, personal e-mails are the least stressful for me, as there's only one other person involved, the conversation is asynchronous, I don't have to worry about nonverbal anything, I can process the exchange at my speed, and overall I feel like communication there is generally most productive. Admittedly, I can get a bit impulsive even here and rush off a reply that may not quite communicate what I want.



Zen
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21 Mar 2011, 4:13 pm

For me, I think face-to-face is the worst. But we may be talking about different things. I can't remember the last time I had a social phone call. All my phone calls are either business calls or customer service calls. For those, I don't feel a lot of pressure, because I'm usually prepared with what I want to say. And if someone asks me something I have difficulty answering on the spot, I just tell them I'll get back to them with the info. If I had to suffer through social phone calls, though, I can see how that might be worse than face to face for the reasons you describe.

I'm glad to see someone else with the text chat problem. I loathe text chat. I used to do it a lot, but I have uninstalled any that I had and turned off any that are associated with web sites. Along with all the things you mentioned, I really cannot do anything else while text chatting, like other people seem to. If I'm chatting, I'm doing that and only that, and what a waste of time that is!

I'm not particularly fond of private messages myself, because I feel pressured to reply to them, unlike in the forum where I can choose to not reply if I have nothing important/interesting to say. Email used to be this way with me as well, but I think anyone I email has gotten used to me not replying for a month, so I don't feel as much pressure anymore. Unless it's from someone new, I suppose. Hand writing would be on the same level for me. It is a pain to make the effort, but for me it's less effort than trying to communicate verbally. I haven't hand written anything in years though.

Forums are easiest for me because of the format. It's the only possible way I'll ever be able to have a conversation with more than one person at a time. And it's more voluntary than PMs or email in that I don't have to reply at all if I don't feel like it.



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21 Mar 2011, 4:14 pm

I love talking to people in person most of all. It's the most stressful but also the most rewarding. Also just being with someone and doing something together (ice skating comes to mind) without talking is in the same category.

As for the other options: talking on the phone> instant messaging>e-mails>handwritten notes/letters>forums. None of these compare to being in person, though, they're all way further down on the list for me.



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21 Mar 2011, 4:16 pm

I am not very technologically advanced (I don't even have a cell phone), so with some of the things you mention, I am not sure what they are.

I prefer to send messages by email generally, but I have found that it only works with discussions that are emotionally neutral. If there is any kind of emotion involved, like anger or hurt feelings, emails are very prone to misunderstandings and usually make the situation worse. In that case, I guess I might prefer to talk face to face, in theory, but in practice I would probably be too scared, and would also be afraid that I would start crying or get into a heated argument. So perhaps my preferred method of communication in those cases would be no communication at all.

I used to talk to some people by IM but I found that very stressful (though less stressful than talking to them on the phone) because there was always pressure to answer immediately to the other person's comments. And there is no way I could handle having two different IM conversations at the same time.

I dislike the phone when talking to strangers, like customer service, but don't mind it if I am talking to close friends, though I often find that I have nothing to say. I have the same problem with face to face conversations. Sometimes I feel like I'm just a dullard with nothing to say!

I like forums because you can take your time to formulate a response, though I agree that sometimes you can say the wrong thing or be misunderstood, and then it's impossible to take it back because so many people have seen it.

So, I don't really know what I prefer. Perhaps face to face is the most universal one, given the variety of situations in which one has to communicate, but I am far from comfortable with it.



Verdandi
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21 Mar 2011, 4:23 pm

Zen wrote:
For me, I think face-to-face is the worst. But we may be talking about different things. I can't remember the last time I had a social phone call. All my phone calls are either business calls or customer service calls. For those, I don't feel a lot of pressure, because I'm usually prepared with what I want to say. And if someone asks me something I have difficulty answering on the spot, I just tell them I'll get back to them with the info. If I had to suffer through social phone calls, though, I can see how that might be worse than face to face for the reasons you describe.


I am actually specifically talking about the call I had to make to tech support on Saturday and the call I had to make today to schedule a ride to my therapy appointment with "Paratransit" (provides rides to medical appointments for people on Medicaid). I don't make social phone calls at all if I can avoid it. The last few I've done were pretty stressful.

Quote:
I'm glad to see someone else with the text chat problem. I loathe text chat. I used to do it a lot, but I have uninstalled any that I had and turned off any that are associated with web sites. Along with all the things you mentioned, I really cannot do anything else while text chatting, like other people seem to. If I'm chatting, I'm doing that and only that, and what a waste of time that is!


Yes! I have trouble doing other things while chatting, too. And I've lost count of times people have started chatting with me just as I was about to do something else and I let myself get distracted with the chat instead.



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21 Mar 2011, 4:24 pm

Long conversation face-to-face, no small talk just lots of big talk about different subjects, inner thoughts, opinions.
Followed by commenting on facebook statuses and on pm. Instant messaging is OK, but I prefer pm and commenting.
NO PHONE, I HATE THE PHONE.


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jmnixon95
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21 Mar 2011, 4:27 pm

I detest 'small talk' thoroughly both in person and online.
However, I enjoy long-winded and intellectual conversations both in person and online.

I mostly prefer typing.
Then writing.
Then talking face-to-face.
Then phone.
I, like MONKEY, hate the phone.



Verdandi
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21 Mar 2011, 4:47 pm

jmnixon95 wrote:
I detest 'small talk' thoroughly both in person and online.
However, I enjoy long-winded and intellectual conversations both in person and online.


Yeah, I am no fan of small talk in any context. I do enjoy deeper conversation (especially about my favorite topics) in any context. But some contexts are better than others.



Zen
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21 Mar 2011, 4:47 pm

To be honest, if I can get out of making a phone call in any way besides going to talk to the person face-to-face, I will. But I still prefer it to face-to-face. Maybe it's because having someone look at me and having someone there to look at is another level of distraction that isn't present on the phone. I'm not getting anything out of visual cues anyway.



Verdandi
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21 Mar 2011, 4:52 pm

Phone calls hurt my brain is I guess the best shortest way to put it. Even my brief phone session with my therapist was more difficult for me than I thought it would be.

There was a time when I preferred phones over face to face.



jmnixon95
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21 Mar 2011, 4:53 pm

Verdandi wrote:
There was a time when I preferred phones over face to face.


Then the wide-spread usage of the internet came around, right?



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21 Mar 2011, 4:55 pm

I like to be in the presence of other people who are 'sensing'. We can do separate things on opposite sides of the room and yet be aware of each other and connecting and communicating in our own way. Every single thing we do says who we are -- it's in every movement, sound, tonality, rhythm, hesitation, breath, footstep, everything. And each of us can pick up on it from any of those cues and more. How we react to our environment, how our environment reacts to us. If we move objects around in ways others might find "purposeless" or "nonsensical", it signals important information to the other without even being intended as a signal. Somehow, all the overlapping sensory information that each of us perceives, overlaps with the other, and both of us resonate on levels that can't even be explained or described. And all this can happen despite neither of us being able to feel 'in company with' another person in any standard way. And best of all, no language.


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21 Mar 2011, 5:08 pm

I prefer e-mail, face to face, or texting over phone calls. I don't mind phone conversations once they get going but
I don't like calling people or having them call me.
If that makes any sense..........



Verdandi
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21 Mar 2011, 5:55 pm

anbuend wrote:
I like to be in the presence of other people who are 'sensing'. We can do separate things on opposite sides of the room and yet be aware of each other and connecting and communicating in our own way. Every single thing we do says who we are -- it's in every movement, sound, tonality, rhythm, hesitation, breath, footstep, everything. And each of us can pick up on it from any of those cues and more. How we react to our environment, how our environment reacts to us. If we move objects around in ways others might find "purposeless" or "nonsensical", it signals important information to the other without even being intended as a signal. Somehow, all the overlapping sensory information that each of us perceives, overlaps with the other, and both of us resonate on levels that can't even be explained or described. And all this can happen despite neither of us being able to feel 'in company with' another person in any standard way. And best of all, no language.


There have been very few people I could even come close to feeling like that around (and of course language was always involved). The need for that feeling of "in company with" can often be oppressive. I mean, I have it sometimes myself, but most times not so much. Others seem to have and express it far more, whether I am able to reciprocate or not.

Of course, I don't even know that the above is possible with anyone for me, but it would be nice to not have that pressure.

jmnixon95,

I am not sure when widespread usage came about, but you are correct in guessing the link to the internet. I started using it in 1992 or 1993.



Last edited by Verdandi on 21 Mar 2011, 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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21 Mar 2011, 5:58 pm

anything with ASCII > phone > handwriting > face to face



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21 Mar 2011, 6:46 pm

From easiest to most difficult:
Face to face
Forums, etc.
Phone calls
IM or text message
E-mail
Voice messages
Handwritten

I struggle sometimes with stuff like e-mail, as it takes me a while to decide what to write and a whole lot longer to go over it multiple times and make sure that it says exactly what I want it to say.
I hate having to leave voice messages as I don't like having to plan what I'm going to say and it never comes out correctly anyway (I'm usually more comfortable hanging up before the last ring - everyone has Caller ID these days - they can call me back)


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