One of the great things about us humans is how different we all are, and one of those differences can be found in our preferences for communication methods. Some feel more comfortable with written communication, while others generally find it easier to talk – and sometimes we may agree that one of those options is better than the other for a certain purpose. But which is actually easier, writing or talking?
Talking is easier...right?
On the surface, you might think that everyone finds talking easier than writing. After all, we learn to speak before we learn to write, and most of us do it more often and are able to converse verbally without feeling like we have to think too much as we go along. There are also fewer rules relating to spoken language, and getting the words from formation to expression generally happens quicker because unlike typing or writing, speaking doesn't require any tools or implements.
The ancient Greeks communicated their greatest ideas in a spoken forum, with philosophical writings appearing on the scene much later, but these days writing is often considered a 'higher skill' than speaking. Does this mean that it is more difficult though? Suspense and emotions can be conveyed through dramatic pauses or facial expressions while speaking, whereas in writing we need to use punctuation or other techniques – a skill that can take more time to develop. Having said that, those of us who are uncomfortable with public speaking may inadvertently communicate emotions like anxiety or stress that we'd rather keep hidden!
There are a number of situations in which either talking or writing is the only choice we have, but it'd be easy to reach the assumption that wherever we're given the choice, the majority of people find talking easier and would, therefore, plump for that option.
Getting it write
Of course, it's not really that simple because writing has its advantages too. For one, it's easier to get your message right as you have time to revise, think through, and perfect your words without any pressure to say things 'on the fly'. Writing also gives more time to form and refine an idea before expressing it.
According to introvertspring.com, most introverts find it easier to write than to speak. In general, it seems that some people are more comfortable translating their thoughts, feelings and ideas into written text, while others consider themselves better at saying them aloud. An important point that you may not necessarily consider when faced with this choice though, is whether your audience is more comfortable reading your message or listening to it.
There are certain things that can be missed or require more detailed explanation when we choose to communicate with writing instead of speaking, such as non-verbal and emotional information that can be communicated using body language, tone of voice and facial expressions – so when speaking we can normally transmit the same amount of information using fewer words. You also have the chance to amend your message and explain things that weren't clear in a different way thanks to receiving immediate feedback from your audience.
Writing involves more physical effort because we must use our hands, and it also takes longer than speaking – because of this, we may lose our thread and forget what we were trying to express before we've finished. Then again, one might argue that writing is actually no more difficult than speaking, but that the situations in which we're required to do it, such as filling out forms or writing exams, are generally more difficult or pressurised than a chat at the supermarket – and that this combined with the fact that it's more time-consuming makes writing simply seem harder.
The final word
Everyone has their own preference when given a choice between talking or writing – and there are aspects of each that can make them the better option for a particular scenario. For instance, when it comes to talking about our daily habits or expressing our opinions on a given topic or product, there's little need to generate an idea in advance and no pressure to be word perfect when talking about our feelings. So in this scenario, all but the shyest among us would probably find it more convenient to record ourselves talking than to write our feelings out in full, simply because of the time and physical effort involved in the latter. This is especially true on mobile phones, which normally have front-facing cameras these days but remain fiddly to type on despite larger screen sizes.
We've experienced this ourselves at Plotto – our customers have had success using our video survey tools because they make it quick and easy for their respondents to record their feelings using their phones or laptops. And with the added benefit of speech and facial emotion recognition technologies, it's just as easy for researchers to analyse the words and emotions conveyed in a video as those expressed in written form.