Differences between how we communicate in person and over text

Texting can bring people closer together or create distance depending on the underlying motivations. But it can also be confusing and misinterpreted.

Without voice inflections, tone, body language, and other nonverbal cues, misunderstandings are more common through texts. It is also harder to convey serious conversations over text.


Immediacy is a noun that describes the speed at which something happens. For example, if you order pizza and see the truck pull up in front of your house two minutes later, that’s an example of immediateness.

Some things are better discussed in person, especially if they’re serious or sensitive. Text messaging is not ideal for these types of conversations because it offers the least amount of information, which can lead to misunderstandings.

Additionally, research shows that when we hear someone’s voice and see their face, they are more likely to be perceived as more human than if we only read their words. This is why it’s important to use texting to compliment face-to-face communication and not replace it entirely.


Convenience is an attribute that relates to accessibility and the ease with which something can be used. It can be a personal benefit, like living close to shops, schools and libraries, or it can be an amenity that saves time and effort: modern convenience cooking spares people the labour involved in meal preparation, for example.

Retailers rely on the concept of convenience to differentiate their offerings from those of their competitors, but few define it systematically from customers’ perspectives. They tend to treat the term as a catchall that encompasses multiple store- and experience-related attributes, such as prime locations, around-the-clock service and small store size.

Texting is convenient because it can reduce the awkwardness of a serious conversation, but it offers less clarity and may lead to more misunderstandings than talking in person. In addition, research suggests that listening to someone’s voice is more effective than reading their words when it comes to persuading them to change their opinions or views.


When it comes to speed, texting has a distinct advantage over talking. You can easily send a quick message in between meetings, while waiting for coffee or while sitting in traffic. You can also send a text to a group, which makes communication with a larger audience much easier and quicker.

However, a text message only offers limited information and lacks tone and body language, which can lead to misunderstandings. Serious conversations are better communicated over the phone or in person, to prevent any miscommunications that could potentially escalate the situation.

Whether you’re discretely checking your smartphone during a business meeting or doing the head-bob while driving in traffic to compose a text to your friends, Americans love their instant communication. But, sometimes, it’s just worth the extra effort to talk.