Today marks my family’s second day on our epic journey across Canada and I’m clearly aware that I can’t spend fourteen straight days posting about the trip. I mean, I COULD… But the idea is to maintain a readership, not scare them all away. With that in mind, I’ve decided that I’ll be posting about the trip every few days, after photos and material have been gathered in order for share my thoughts on the trip. With that in mind, let’s get on with today’s post…
Sometimes, navigating society can be pretty difficult. You’re probably think “d-uh,” right? Beyond societal expectations and personal hopes of acceptance, there’s also the little detail that we’re all individuals. Although this should be hailed as a good thing, it also means that each and every one of us has our own thoughts, beliefs, perspective and personalities. The downside to THAT is that we don’t always mix well with those aspects in others, which ultimately leads to us not playing well with others.
Picture this; you’re working with an individual who has been tasked with a project. You’ve been asked to look into that project and determine its status as well as verify the quality of the work. During this verification, you notice that some aspects of the project aren’t quite up to snuff with how it was requested. In a casual and conversational setting, you mention this in passing to the individual working on it. You walk away happy that’s you’re able to clearly discuss this matter and look forward top seeing the updated project.
Some time goes by and you come to realize that you’ve received no updates. Curious and somewhat confused, you reach out to the individual in question and discover that not only have they not updated the project, they’re displeased with “how you addressed them” and don’t wish to communicate with you. You’re utterly confused. You run the scenario in your head and can’t understand what you might have said that could have been interpreted as offensive.
Here’s the thing; you likely didn’t! There’s an old saying that goes something like, “I only control my words, not how you react to them…” I have no idea where the saying stems from, but I’ve heard different versions at different points throughout my life. And it’s pretty accurate. With some people, you can be absolutely sweet as sugar and they’ll still get pissed off at you and think you’ve offended or disrespected them. In most instances, there isn’t much you can do about that. It’s not a “you” problem, it’s a “them” problem.
Now, I used a workplace example for this scenario but it can and does happen in one’s personal life, as well. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as missing a comma in a text message and it changes the tone, causing the recipient to take it offensively, regardless of whether it was intended that way or not. For most, this requires the ability to allow room for clarification of the interpretation rather than getting all snowflake-ish about it. But this isn’t always possible and if you’re the one overreacting about something, you may not be amenable to taking that step. Changing one’s perspective can be difficult.
And ultimately, one needs to ask oneself, even if you didn’t MEAN to offend or disrespect someone, does it genuinely make it any less offensive to the other person? If someone makes a joke or makes light of something they consider comedic but happens to be something personal and sensitive to the other, their feelings are genuine even if you didn’t mean to harm them. It’s pretty easy to sit behind a keyboard and say that one should apologize for the harm, even if it wasn’t intended as such. But this practice can become an exhausting and futile exercise, especially when dealing with individuals in one’s life who become offended and hurt at absolutely everything.
At the end of the day, there’s no easy answer to this scenario. It’s simply one of those things that a person needs to accept and recognize requires some give and take from both sides of the conversation. For the offended party, it’s important to recognize that allowing yourself to have an open perspective on what the intent of the message or action is, is important to proper communication and to prevent unnecessary misunderstandings. For the one relaying the message or performing the words or actions, be willing to view things through the recipients lens and accept that even though you may have done nothing wrong, it doesn’t eliminate the suffering that may have been cause. Food for thought… ☯️