No Text or Next: A talk with Behavioral Analyst Stephanie Michele

Stephanie Michele is a certified behavioral analyst, CEO of SocialBling and the founder of No Text or Next. Stephanie advocates that an advanced quality of relating equals an advanced quality of life. She speaks on the importance of practicing communication skills in the juxtaposition of mainstream “device, media and app addicted” society and promotes the value of maintaining long term relationships. She uses creative and sometimes provocative methods to increase integrity, sincerity, transparency and trust building for individuals and group environments. Her firm, SocialBling specializes in attraction to retention models that are used in digital marketing strategies and workforce culture development.No Text or Next: A talk with Behavioral Analyst Stephanie Michele

1. What is “No Text or Next”?

Stephanie: I believe in two things on this planet.

Number One: Every person has something beautiful to say. Maybe what they have to say is not for everyone, but in the right moment and time it is exactly what someone else needs to hear.

Number Two: It is getting harder and harder for people to find each other and have these essential moments with all the noise and distractions that our device addicted world delivers on a daily basis.

No Text or Next is a "let’s break bad communication habits together" movement. We emphasis a good place to start breaking these habits is to look at communication happening via text, instant messaging, and dating apps. We encourage people to take the “No Text or Next” Pledge as a way to radically improve their quality of relating with other people.

Together with #NoTextNext pledgers, we are creating a community of people who dare to say: “I am pursuing healthy, meaningful connection and communication,” “I have had enough of inappropriate boldness said via text, instant messaging, and dating apps,” and/or “Just because text communication is the norm, does not mean it is a good thing or works the best for me.”

2. What types of texters are there?

Stephanie: That is loaded question because although I could have a lot of fun labeling people by their texting habits that does very little to help us answer these questions – In a situation where there are options, why do so many people pick a device over real in-person interaction? Also, as texting becomes a normal part of our multitasking routines, how distracted are we when delivering communication that matters to the well-being of our relationships?

Many surveys have been conducted in the last five years where as high as 60% of the people surveyed confessed to feeling addicted to their personal devices (cell phones and tablets.) In the same period of time marriage is on a decline. A United States report showed a marriage rate of 6.74 out of 1000 people for 2015, down from 7.09 people in 2008. A Pew Research Center report recently said that one-fourth of millennials show no interest in marriage at all. Quality relating is essential in creating healthy long lasting relationships. It is no wonder to me that in a time when a form of communication full of assumptions and distractions is so popular (texting,) people no longer feel that marriage or long term relationship is possible.

3. How can texting hurt our relationships?

Stephanie: Words only make up about 7% of what is needed to truly understand someone when they speak. We need to receive a person’s tone, read body language, and make eye contact with them to understand all the communication signals they are sending. It is easy enough to be misunderstood when all of these things are present. With texting, the receiver of the message is filling in the blanks each time they read something. When there is too much text without offline check-ins, a person can get an entirely different sense for who someone is than who they really are. This is hard to correct and not to mention not at all a foundation for a stable relationship.

The other issue with texting is the role it plays via online dating sites and apps. As we swipe left or right in repeated sessions judging selfies and clever one line bios, we are falling for an illusion that there are hundreds of dating options available to us. This allows us to take more risk with our texting once we do match with someone. Some people don’t even bother to say anything at all once they are matched. Some use the newly opened door of text communication just to further screen a person and rule them out as option before they meet. And then there are others that just use the open door to say whatever the hell they want with no regards to learning about the person they are talking with.

There are no rules or guidelines. Instant Messaging opens the door for first communication to take place and immediately communication is taking granted. Who talks first? What do you ask? What do you share? Words become highly judged and dissected chess moves without any true sense of knowing; “would I connect with this person offline?” It is just so weird. Personally, I respect men who take on the role of the pursuer. Men who ask to talk offline and/or make plans to meet.

4. Why is it that people insist on having long conversations through text/instant messages?

Stephanie: I think for some people it is safer and easier because they are able to say things via text that they would not say in person. This leads to complete ridiculousness via instant messaging and dating app because it allows people to create completely different personas online. I was catfished by a person via a dating app. Even though I knew something was off, I allowed the long conversations to go on. If I was getting quality interaction in other areas of my life I would not have. I was settling for what was available to me at the time. I found out my catfisher was in a committed relationship. He was pursuing connection with me knowing full well that he could not invest any real feelings into an offline relationship with me.

5. What do you think of sending nudes text/instant messages?

Stephanie: I think it great idea in the context of committed relationship; keeping “sexy time” fun and surprising will add years of happiness to a relationship. It is a TERRIBLE idea when meeting someone new or when dating before a commitment because it leads to vulnerable in two areas: intimacy and privacy. Any kind of sex before knowing someone well creates a false sense of intimacy that is likely to lead to loads of expectations that in a short period of time will kill the relationship.

If you are not looking for a relationship then this is probably not an issue for you, but what if the other person is and you piss them off? If you are willing to risk your “junk” being shared publicly online then “sext” away. If keeping your private parts offline is important to you, you probably don’t want to share photos with someone before you know them enough to trust they have integrity with your privacy.

6. Do men and women tend to text or communicate differently?

Stephanie: Since I started No Text or Next I have learned a lot more about this subject. The short answer is, “Yes of course. Men and women communicate differently.” What I have also learned by interacting with our community is there are common complaints amongst the sexes.

The #1 complaint from women is the one word text response from men.

The #1 complaint from men is that women send too many questions or topics to respond to via text before he has a chance to respond.

The #1 shared complaint between both sexes is the “No text back.” There is an incredible amount of anxiety around waiting on the text back; anxiety that could be completely eliminated by setting up the boundaries we suggest via our No Text or Next Pledge.

7. No reply means no interest?

Stephanie: No reply does not necessarily mean there is no interest. When you first meet someone you have to consider they had a life before you. They work. They have friends and family they spend time with. Text is an interruptive form of communication. Sometimes people can’t respond right away or forget to respond when they have time. There are some pretty funny memes floating around about people responding to a text in their head only to realize much later they never sent the text. At the end of the day, if you are not sure if there is interest just ask and not via a text either. If there is no opportunity to ask offline that is strong indication there is no interest. A person who is interested will pursue offline time with you.

8. Can long distance relationships ever work out?

Stephanie: I have never been in a long distance relationship myself, but have listened to several of my friends work through theirs. The relationships that have worked out took some work. Both people had to agree on boundaries regarding seeing other people, when they would see each other, and what they would do to stay connected between those times. The relationships that survived the distance were working towards an exact date on the calendar when they would permanently be together in one location. Long distance relationships with an indefinite time period for the distance are not as likely to survive the strain of the distance.

9. How can communication be improved in long distance relationships?

Stephanie: Long distance relationships require equal doses of work and creativity which is much easier to pull off with all the technology we have access to today. You can use FaceTime or Skype to actually see and hear a person. You can also pull off some very creative quality time by taking the other person with you to a new location you want them to see via FaceTime or watching the same movie on Netflix while staying on Skype.

10. What social skills do we need in order to have healthy social relationships?

Stephanie: Being a good listener is the most essential social skill for maintaining healthy relationships. When we talk to another person we may only be concentrated on what we will say next rather than truly listening to understand. The good news is this is a bad habit that is easy to break. The best exercise I have found to develop great listening skills is practicing structured dialog. Structured dialog was created by Harville Hendrix PhD who wrote the book “Getting the Love You Want.” There are three steps to practicing structured dialog:

Mirroring – Repeating back what the other says and developing a principle of curiosity by asking, “Is there more about that?” “Am I getting everything?”
Validation – Communicating understanding, “This makes sense to me because…”
Empathy - Discussing feelings pertaining to the dialog’s topic, “How did that make you feel?” “I am sorry you had to go through that.”

11. What is next for No Text or Next?

Stephanie: So far people in four countries have pledged No Text or Next. As the community grows, we are working on a video series. We will be taking No Text or Next to the streets asking people to share confusing texts, helping them with their communication struggles, and encouraging them to take the No Text or Next Pledge. As more people take a stance for meaningful communication and better relationships we suspect we will be doing some matchmaking along the way with brands, services and people that all desire to raise the global and local consciousness of authentic connection.

Twitter: @lovemorenow and @notextnext

Instagram: @notextnext

Facebook: facebook.com/notextnext


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Most Helpful Guy

  • I guess I'm just a different sort of fellow. I never did the T-9 texting in the pre smartphone days. For me, texting is more like letter writing. By that, I mean that I don't abbreviate (except for contractions, apostrophe included of course), I include parentheticals, and even take care to include Oxford commas. I edit for spelling, readability and I ensure there is one and only one space between characters. I look for subject verb agreement and consistency in style.

    My English teachers would all be proud. That I am entering text using my thumbs on a smartphone touch screen and having that text delivered via my cellular carrier is not germane.

    The behavioral analyst above is basically rejecting a technology because of how people use it. I call BS on that. I've known many people over the years that have had nothing to say on most topics and little of value to say on the few topics that did spark interest. Boring people with poor communication skills are not made by smartphones. The dull, the dimwitted, and the uninteresting have always been with us. What's different now is that their communications can be reviewed (and criticized) well after the fact.

    I also take note that texting need not be interruptive. If you are having an ongoing conversation with someone, prompt reply is to be appropriately expected. The asynchronous nature of texting does accomodate the opportunity to be more thoughtful before pressing "send". Well considered and chosen words are worth the wait.

    I feel that her real argument is against failing to pay considerate attention to others in our fast paced modern world. Blaming the technology for what is really a human foible is misleading at best.

    I met my wife on eHarmony. I owe that relationship to my ability to communicate well via text. That is how communications begin on a dating site. My nine year (so far 😊) marriage would not have happened without the very technology she is deriding.

    Even now, my wife and I communicate via text...

    when we are in the same room together.

    We can include pictures and links we can think about our responses without feeling compelled to talk in the minute and we can text while watching a show together. Best of all, I can reread our texts (again, just like letters). In fact, I was rereading an exchange we had the other day that led to a beautiful sexual encounter.

    Perhaps to Stephanie it's as simple as paper = good vs AMOLED screen = bad. I'd call her a Luddite, but why give them a bad name?

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Most Helpful Girl

  • Stephanie I have no complaints about you and I would never attack someone that I do not know. I would like to give my take on texting. People are jumping on texting because it is safe. It requires no commitment and no interaction with humans on a gut level. It is nearly impossible to interpret the emotional meaning of what the context is. You can be sarcastic and people will never pick that up because there's no emotional voice involved. I think people who who text as their major method of communication never develop complete skills to be emotionally involved. If someone wants to talk to me call me up on the phone. If you want naked pictures of me give mere email I'll send them but I will not interact with you when there is no emotional content.
    And I have attended lectures at Stanford regarding the increased difficulty of communication between 2 people who are seeking companionship. It is interesting that prostitution has increased in the San Francisco area. I don't mean looking at a video screen and masturbated. I mean the real thing everyone has always called prostitution sex with no emotion. Texting has less emotion and men are seeking the real thing by finding a lady of the night. I would like you to incorporate some of those proposed by me in your response. From a psychologic and sociological viewpoint your studies and interests are valid. But to be seen as a positive influence on society I believe your position should be that texting has a negative impact on let's call it the human condition. I took a course in college called deviant behavior and as you know deviant behavior is defined by what society thinks. The counterpart to deviant behavior is a course called abnormal psychology. Which area does texting fall into. It seems to be tolerated by society so then again it's not deviant behavior until the 16-year-old girl's mother finds out and then the feces hits the fan. I await your response

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    • Great response. As you stated texting can’t be deviant behavior because it has become the norm. I don’t think there is an appropriate label for current behavioral trends like texting. The issue is we live in a time where mainstream media and social media are combined and used as proof as to why or why not a person should do something without a conscious decision to understand if that action is the best thing for the individual. Trends get labeled and accepted as progress faster than ever. I don’t want to take a stance and say texting is terrible for all situations and circumstance. However, I believe anything that threatens the ability and the desire for people to communicate face to face should not be labeled as progress and needs a closer examination. Having a conversation like this, testing out some boundaries in real life relationships seems like a good place to start.
      Thoughts?

    • @SMichele I thank you for your response which helped create more clarity then before. I "felt" your individual opinion regarding texting and am in agreement with its negative aspects. Texting has it like a tidal wave in society and my belief is that it has just begun its fate to only grow bigger. There is no one society in the United States save the world. We are divided into discrete socioeconomic groups. Forgive me for generalization but it seems to make that texting has been welcomed by the middle to lower class as an easy way to self relieve rather than a newer method of meeting the opposite sex. It is my belief that it has been chosen by the people who most need to not do it. If you text, in order to better your interaction with the opposite sex.

    • Are there studies showing what age group uses texting as the preferred method of communication. My opinion or my feelings are that it is a younger population. This does not bode well for future social interaction. This also might be considered communication by the less educated and lower socioeconomic groups. It is an easy way out and people who need to learn communication skills are those who use texting as their preferred method of social interaction. I cannot say, "no one" but I have the gut feeling that very few at Stanford University are texting. I say that because there is too much real sex going around lol

Join the discussion

What Guys Said 6

  • I notice that only 121 people have signed the pledge. I guess becoming a social pariah just isn't appealing enough.

    Loving the assertion that texting is to blame for dropping marriage numbers. Correlation =/= causation.

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  • people bashing texting... I think we should be a little less harsh... I mean, sure... miscommunication during texting is partly responsible for my ex dumping my ass... But if I had proposed face to face instead of texting, chances are, I'd be put in prison for harassment... in short, some people just have no game... absolutely incurably hopeless... they have no chance of impressing anyone... texting gives them a short-lived, rancid, fake af facsimile of real unadulterated romance... texting can give some people the freedom to be more than a little more witty and cool than they dare to be in real life... If we are all destined for solitary shallow graves, I'm perfectly sanguine with a couple of meaningless flings...

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  • How come I only see one source sited in this? I understand she has a MA degree. But why not site more than one source? It seems everything else is advertising for her movement.

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  • We should just adapt and evolve to this situation. We will progress at a tremendous rate.

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  • 7% of conversation is non-verbal? I'd love to know how they'd figured that statistic out. I always thought it was 50%.

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    • Article stated only 7% of communication is WORDS - case in point - Your response, perhaps it would of been easier to retain information if you heard it spoken instead of reading it?

    • @SMichele That does not even make sense. Perhaps he would have retained it better if it was spoken. Spoken means using words or did I miss something here? The statement seems to be implying non-verbal communication.

  • I have a question.

    Many girls get worried about men texting (or rather, lack of texting) and feel as if it means they are not interested, or that they did something wrong, or that they are undesirable. Generally this happens when it "seems like everything was going well, but I haven't heard from him in 3 hours," or some similar chain of events.

    Alternatively, girls worry about looking too "easy" or "desperate" if they text first, or they are simply too nervous to do it themselves and use the social norm of the man's responsibility to initiate conversations or being the pursuer, in order to hide their insecurities and fears behind something seemingly logical, but certainly forgiving.

    I usually tell them they need to take risks, and stop playing games, and stress the importance of pragmatic honesty.

    My question is, am I approaching the topic properly? And what can I do or change to have people deal with their fears and anxieties in a smart and healthy way?

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    • I understand the situation can be avoied by taking the pledge, but I am moreso interested in the behavioural analysis.

    • Show All
    • Here is an example... Yesterday a girl on GaG asked: A guy I liked texted me "Goodnight 'insert name here,' why would he say my name? What does it mean"

      In most cases, it doesn't mean anything... But girls tend to go crazy overthinking innocuous things like that.

      They also have a fear of texting first because they think it makes them look desperate or easy, when it really doesn't... It is all in their heads. They have all this anxiety about it, but instead of overcoming their fears, they wallow in social standards and rationalize that its the way it "should" be, and if the guy doesn't message, then they lost the opportunity.

      Are you saying they should never text first then? I don't think you meant that?

    • Ok. I am starting to understand a little more about where you are coming from. The example you gave would not be an issue if we did not use text so much until we really knew each other... until we understood the context behind words and actions. What if we reserved text for close relationships and stated that from the beginning?

What Girls Said 6

  • I find, people misunderstand me more in person, then in text.

    and.. when it happens in text, they usually didn't even comprehend what was written.

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  • Update on the topic: I just finished reading comedian Aziz Ansari's book Modern Romance. This book is one of the best I have found on the topic of text. Highly recommend. www.amazon.com/.../1594206279

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  • Texting is terrible. Too much room for miscommunication

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  • I also hate texting. It's been the reason for my most recent break up! I'm hopeless via text.

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  • I'm bad for texting I tend to send two word responses or not respond at all. I'm a call or knock on my door type of person and don't do well with instant messaging. It seems so ineffective. If I need u to pick up coffee fine text you is fine if I need to discuss a bad day phone or person is better. Quick rule of thumb for me is if u need quick response don't text or if you need a response that it more then one sentence; I am poor at conversations over text. I'm just bad at it and it does not hold my interest

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  • I hate texting. Too many misunderstandings. I only use it to arrange to meet up and stuff, but never to chat.

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