Friday, February 1, 2008

Lessons Learned

Email is a wonderful thing. It allows us to stay in contact with people hundreds….thousands of miles away without having to go to the trouble of writing an actual letter and spending a fortune on stamps (hey, 39cents adds up). What had, to me, seemed like such an impersonal form of communication has actually turned out to be a facilitator of closeness in my rather large extended family. It’s a good thing.

It does however, have its drawbacks….drawbacks being a euphemism for dangers. Because of its immediacy and the illusion of anonymity we tend to click the send button before we have had a chance to really think about what kind of reaction our words might have on the recipient. We feel better having vented, we feel righteous, we feel strong….but it’s a sham. In an email it is so much easier to be mean.

Email, and for that matter any internet communication, is in many ways just too easy.

We tend to be braver in email…braver being a euphemism for stupider…we say things that we would hesitate to say in person or on the phone. Things we may want to say, might even have a right to say, but maybe we shouldn’t say. The little part of our brain that develops into a filter as we mature tends to shut down a bit when we are emailing. No one is standing in front of us with tears in their eyes…no one gets the chance to say…”that’s not what I meant”.
No one stops us.

I have my own rules for emailing…mostly centered around the concept of waiting….not a popular idea nowadays but very valuable in keeping the peace within my circle of family and friends. Also a great tool in holding onto a certain amount of self-respect as well as avoiding the inevitable regret of having sent off a nasty missive.
If only my relatives could learn a similar level of restraint.

Before sending any potentially volatile message, take a good look at what you have written, read it from the point of view of the person receiving it. Ask yourself if this needs to be said and if so, what is the kindest way to say it. Don't hesitate to let someone know when you feel they have wronged you, but do it without being vicious. Continue to treat them with a respect that quite possibly they don’t deserve, but which will allow you to walk away knowing you did the right thing.

Ask yourself a few questions before shooting off your mouth..... Do I mean to sound so rude and insensitive?…Is it really my intention to come across as selfish and demanding?...Do I actually want to stoop to their level? At the end of the day, why not be the one who can honestly say, I did everything I could to resolve this problem...
and I have proof :)

And finally, if you really do feel the need to be more candid than you might be in person….write the letter and put it in your drafts folder for at least 24 hours. Time is a wonderful sedative …use it!


Nancy W. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy W. said...

I just love you so much for so many reasons!

Tesa said...

Meg well said, I actually write letters to myself or to someone I'm ticked off at and write them in word, save it on my computer and NEVER SEND IT haha.

It feels great to vent it out and if you are upset sometimes a cool of period helps a TON! Also think if you send an email when you are ticked off that person can SAVE that email and read it over and OVER and OVER again and whenever the bridges start to burn again OUT COMES THAT NASTY email to haunt you lol.

Meg you are a kind woman, a woman of the Lord....we can't please everyone but as long as we just keep our eyes on Him.......nothing else matters :)

jules said...

Hey, I thought you said you liked my emails ...??!!

Chapter 4: "Christians Are Fake"

Maureen said...

LOL Julie!

Thank-you Nancy and Tesa, I have the nicest friends (and sister!)

Tesa said...

Meg........your welcome but rem you pay me to be nice to you :) haha j/k you rawk woman!

despairing said...

I was re-reading this one again today.

This is a great piece of writing. I wish I'd had this advice a couple years ago. It certainly would have saved me (and the people on the receiving end) from an awful lot of pain.

Absolutely excellent Maureen.

Nancy said it best ... "I just love you so much for so many reasons."

Maureen said...

I need to reread it every day!!!