While reading the Melbourne Age online this morning, I see a Liberal National Party Staffer has been put on “indefinite leave” for texting an expletive-laden tirade to a female journalist who recently criticised a federal MP Senator Barry O’Sullivan. In responding the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack stated it was sent “accidentally and inadvertently” to the reporter when it was actually intended for a friend. While the staffer has apologised, what has been said cannot be erased.
How often do we see this today? Angry, overwrought, stressed and highly emotional people resorting on the spur of the moment to vent their feelings, generally apologising sometime later. But what has been said in haste cannot be taken back.
We constantly hear stories like the one above. People in organisations brawling back and forth by email. Again too often in their highly emotional, non-rational state, accidentally sending it to the wrong person, then it circulating around the building, becoming the latest reality show in the building.
It’s not always anger or aggression either. It can be people who are worried and anxious, even stressed who attempt to connect with someone via email in the hope that their “issue” can be resolved in this digital space.
I’ve had a number of situations where someone who is depressed or stressed texts through their feelings to me and seemingly wants to be counselled by text message. I am very generous with my time and will always try to help and given a background in counselling and psychotherapy in another life-time, I have the skills to do so. I will not, however, even attempt to do it by email or text message and always invite the person to phone me and I will be happy to talk with them, without charge. Rarely do they take up that invitation but they keep on texting and emailing me, eventually getting angry with me that I am not doing what they want – to continue an inappropriate “conversation” by email or text message.
So for all the great value that text messages and email bring to our lives, using them to express strong emotions is not one of them. It is very unprofessional. It demonstrates very poor emotional intelligence and shows poor impulse control. It indicates little self-awareness about what is happening within them. It is a career breaker.
What’s Happening In Our Brain When We Emotionally Vent Inappropriately Like That? I’ve written an article and put it up on LinkedIn today answering this question. The research on the brain is very exciting and demonstrates that if we really want to change something about ourselves, we can do it. Understanding how our brain works shows us the way.
If you want to read on, the article – Why Emails, Text Messages and Strong Emotions Don’t Mix – can be accessed here.