Are There Communication Barriers In Social Media?

October 11, 2012 by  

Communication Barriers Can Be An Issue

This post was originally posted on the Collective Bias Blog on September 26, 2012

The same avenues that increase our communication between people can also be the ones that can create a communication barrier to “true” communication. The message we are trying to convey, may not be the same message that is received.

communication barriers

We are becoming a “social” world. Social in the sense that we are communicating with people we would have never been able to communicate with prior to the internet, texting, Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc.   What an awesome powerful tool we have to use! I personally love being able to communicate with friends from High School, extended family, my boys that live out of state and many other friends. That is one half of the equation for me. The other half is the business side of social communication.  Being able to actually “talk” and communicate with CEO’s of major communies, other bloggers, that I never would have met and being able to live in Ohio and work out of an office in Bentonville, AR, have been absolute dreams for me!

Along with the new lines of communication that we have adapted to over the last several years, comes the problem that can occur while utilizing this form of communication.. which is – lack of communication with our communication.

What? That doesn’t seem to make sense, does it?  We communicate more, and yet… we are communicating less? While communicating via written word, such as email, twitter or Facebook; it is really easy for your words to be miscommunicated.

I think we have all experienced it.  You are in a great mood, reply to someone’s email while you are laughing and send a little joke. The person who receives the email is having a terrible day. They read your joke, but don’t see it as a joke. They get offended, and the problems ensue.

I think we often forget that our voices aren’t being heard, our smiles aren’t being seen, our body language is hidden.  We have learned some ways to get our messages across.  Capitalizing all the words, generally mean that you are angry. Using “lol” (laugh out loud), smiley faces :) and other happy expressions are ways we try to show we are happy, we are conveying a joke or humor.

We have become lazy when it comes to using the phone, or meeting in person for lunch or a chat.  For those of us who are working online most of the day, it can almost seem like a stumbling block to call someone. We have become so used to sending an email, or a tweets or Facebook message to them to communicate. It is “Safe” communication.  We are “protected” from hearing a tone we may not want to hear, or having to say words that might become difficult or strained.  We have become “used” to our new form of communication and it’s comfortable.  We all like comfortable.

But, we have to remember that the real relationship is built in person, or on the phone. Really being able to communicate.  I don’t think I would have been working for Collective Bias if I hadn’t stepped out and gone to Blogging conferences and met those who started and run it in person. It is the real life connection that is going to ultimately “connect” you.

I saw this Facebook post via Zipporah Sandler and had to share. It is so true.

” To the people who seem to be filling my inbox. If you want to get offered opps, trips, reviews and paid work with brands – put in the WORK and foster relationships with these brands and reps. If you do, you’ll find yourself working with the brands, and more importantly PEOPLE that you love.
BTW, the contact list in my cell phone and skype look like a who’s who of PR and in-house marketing people, and I don’t only call when I WANT something, but also to just to say hi, let’s go to lunch, or what’s doing in your life?” ~Zippy Sandler

What I think is the most important thing here is that she says she calls the PR  & Marketing people.  She calls just to say hi, or to have lunch! It’s obvious why she is getting so many offers from the Brands, is it not?


The Social Fabric Community Weighs in

I asked them the following three questions:

1) What are some common mistakes people make when communicating online?

2) What are some ways that you feel these mis-communications can be prevented?

3) What are some tips for better communication?


Common Mistakes

One thing that most all of those who commented from the Social Fabric community agreed on, was that spelling errors and poor grammar were the biggest mistakes people made when communicating via the written word online.

Utilizing spell check and proof reading are simple ways these errors can be prevented.


Tips for how mis-communications can be prevents & better communication from our Social Fabric Members:

Read aloud what you’ve written, even if it’s just to yourself. ~ Monique Burkes @ArmsofaSister

If I’m trying to make a joke but it doesn’t come across as such, I’ll either put LOL or a smiley face or something to let them know I wasn’t being serious. ~Carolyn West @TemysMom 

They need a sarcasm font.   A “lol” helps diffuse a sarcastic statement. Christine @MammaCupcake

Read what you typed out loud to check for tone and clarity before publishing your comment, post, or FB update. Also use smilies to emphasize your tone. ~ Karen  @_Karen

Forgetting that sarcasm and humor do not always translate online. We often forget how much tone and body language conveys to the listener. Oh, and beware of inside jokes in a public forum. Those can go all shades of wrong. ~Andrea @notimeMom

Written communication is so tough because it is all about the attitude of the person writing it and the attitude of the person reading it. I will often use “haha” or “:)” to lighten the mood. I also might think about what I’m going to write before I write it. ~Janet  @JanetGoingCrazy

I also think writing in anger is a big mistake. It’s better to cool off and respond rationally than in the heat of the moment. Written communication needs to be very clear and concise. ~Melissa @MsMissy62

You know, I’d really just be happy these days if people would remember to run spell check, or pay attention to that little red line that crops up under words when you’re typing on FB and in forums. As well as remember some basic 7th grade grammar rules – their, there, they’re; lose, loose; affect, effect; etc. ~ Amanda @HouseHoldSix

I agree with Christine- a sarcasm font would be great. ~Samantha @HaveSippy

If you have information you know is sensitive or may be interpreted the wrong way, pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation. ~Sarah East9thStreet

I think tone is also a huge issue. You may think something sounds cute or funny, but it may come across as rude to someone else. It helps to read through what you’ve written with skeptical eyes before publishing. ~Jennifer @TheSimplePen


Communication via the written word is wonderful! It has opened our worlds to meeting and talking to people we otherwise would never have been able to make.  But everything wonderful has pitfalls. We need to be vigilant and try to prevent those pitfalls, and remember that written communication should not be our only means of communication.  It should be in addition to speaking in real life. That is where the real connection continues to be made and nurtured.




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One Response to “Are There Communication Barriers In Social Media?”
  1. Rosey says:

    This is a great heads up or reminder. I once sent my son’s girlfriend a text, and I had a joke in it but she totally took it the wrong way and shot back an instant, “I do too love him, don’t tell me who I love or don’t love.” -_-

    Luckily, LOL (and I stress the LOL here), we straightened it out. ;)

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