How do you avoid misinterpretation through messages

Instant Messenger - Lots of room for misinterpretation

The smartphone has revolutionized the way people communicate with one another. With so-called mobile instant messengers such as WhatsApp, Threema and Telegram, people can exchange messages, pictures and videos conveniently and free of charge over the Internet. There is even the option of communicating in a so-called group chat. The only catch: the more people involved, the more complicated it often becomes.

Mobile instant messengers

In principle, instant messengers are not public, which means that every user has a list of friends and acquaintances that they create themselves beforehand. The prerequisite is that the people who want to write to each other use the same messenger on their smartphone. When you log on for the first time, the services compare which contacts are in the phone book and whether they also have the corresponding program.

Which instant messenger is right for me? Tips and suggestions can be found here.

If you tap on a name in the list, you can start a conversation. A separate message window opens. Text, images or videos can now be sent back and forth in the window. The sent message lands directly on the recipient's smartphone. If a new message has arrived, the person receives a notification on the device. In addition to a small display, this can also contain a tone or vibration. The recipient can react to the messages immediately or at a later point in time. Communication takes place in real time, as if you were standing opposite and talking to each other or showing each other pictures or videos. The advantages of mobile instant messengers are numerous:

  • quick contact with family, friends and acquaintances - no matter how far apart you live
  • usable on the go
  • Well suited for arrangements such as planning a car pool or a family celebration
  • Diverse possibilities of use: sending of texts, pictures, videos as well as the possibility to call people from the contact list via the messenger

"It was not meant like that!"

However, online communication also brings challenges: Facial expressions and gestures are missing, and misunderstandings can easily occur. The immediate reaction of the other person is incomprehensible. So-called emoticons are intended to counteract this.

Emoticons are small images with which feelings are expressed visually in a text. They replace the missing gestures, facial expressions and emotions. The number of emoticons is constantly growing.

If a topic is very complex or emotionally charged, a quick phone call may be the better choice to avoid misunderstandings. Text that is too long can also be exhausting to read. It can happen that at the end of the message you don't know what it started with. With many instant messengers, one of the standard functions is that the chat partner can precisely track whether and when a message was read. This can lead to annoyance when immediate feedback is expected. The other person may have only read the message briefly, but did not have time to answer at that moment.

Group chats - a curse and a blessing at the same time

Almost every instant messenger offers the possibility of setting up a so-called group chat. Several people can write to each other at the same time. First, a name is specified such as "watch World Cup 2018". Now the founder of the group selects the people who should be there from the contact list. The founder is the so-called administrator and has special rights, including removing participants from the group. These rights can also be assigned to other group members.

Group chats are very popular. If, for example, a birthday or other big event is coming up, a group chat can make more sense than writing with several people in individual message windows. Communication with the family, the club or the neighborhood is transferred to a group. A collective decision is made about how the selection of cakes for the next celebration should look like.

But it is well known that many cooks spoil the broth. Due to the large number of participants, the meaning or the original intention of a group or conversation is quickly lost. This is roughly as if in a conversation with several people there was always wild talk and no one responds to what the other person has said. If individual people then throw pictures or videos into the chat that have nothing to do with the actual topic of the group, the conversation can quickly become confusing and exhausting. Many clarify personal arrangements with individual participants in group chat instead of writing to the person directly. Sometimes messages are exchanged that are only intended for a few in the group. If the smartphone lights up or rings with every new message, this can be annoying in the long run. In addition, not all participants read the news at the same time. If the smartphone rests in the jacket pocket for a few hours, it can be difficult to keep track of the progress of the messages. Misunderstandings are inevitable. And it's no longer fun when everyone has to keep repeating their point of view.