Texting to Avoid Conflict

Feeling under the weather and need to take yet another day off?  Text the boss.

The neighbor still hasn’t returned the lawnmower?   Send an email.

Your brother forgot your birthday?  Go snarky on Facebook.

Today if there is a difficult conversation that may rouse feathers we turn to technology as our means of communication instead of face-to-dialogue.  It’s classic conflict avoidance, according to Houston social media expert Michele Price, with a modern twist.  “People avoid confrontation,” she tells KTRH News.  “If they think by sending a text they’re not going to have the same level of confrontation they would face-to-face they’re going to take the easy way out.”  And it’s something people have always done, she says: only the method has changed.  “Leave a note. Put it on the refrigerator. Run out the door,” Price says, describing conflict avoidance in the pen-and-paper era.  Parents can tell how uncomfortable a child is with a topic by how they chose to communicate an issue: technology is often the preferred method if mom and dad aren’t going to be happy.  She says at work sometimes the shortcoming can come from the higher-ups, who haven’t set appropriate boundaries and expectations of how they expect their staff to communicate.

It’s as old as the sun.  In defining conflict avoidance, Wikipedia points out it is almost indistinguishable from conflict prevention, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

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