In my practice, I work with many adolescents and teens on social communication. These days, that involves a lot of lessons around social media. Recently, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to offer two workshops on social media to a private day school in Toronto.

The title of my first workshop was Nonverbal Communication: Hearing What Isn’t Said. This workshop focused on the loss of nonverbal communication over social media, the resulting miscommunications and misunderstandings, and what can be done to combat this.

I started the workshop by showing this video to the students.


When I asked who could relate to this video, every single student (and teacher) raised their hands. Everyone has experienced miscommunications and misunderstandings over text messages resulting from a lack of facial expression, body language and tone of voice. I talked to the students about the importance of punctuation, emojis and even GIFs in their texts. Together, we took ambiguous text messages, and made them more clear. See below for an example.

Screen Shot 2021 01 27 at 12.05.06 PM

The big take home message was to say what you mean and mean what you say when you are communicating over social media. Be explicit with your words, and if you are confused, don’t pretend to understand but rather, ask for clarification! Finally, I wanted the students to understand that some conversations are better had face to face or on the phone. We brainstormed some examples of these conversations and the kids listed:

  • A serious conversation
  • If you are in a fight
  • When you are feeling angry
  • When you are feeling sad or hurt
  • When it’s an emergency

I have now taken this workshop and adapted it for use with my clients in our one-on-one sessions.

See my next blog for the other social media workshop I provided!