The message sent is not always the message received.
Years ago I visited a friend in Honduras for a couple of weeks. Their Internet service was sparse at best, so I could only contact my husband, Neal, every other day or so, via email. The night before I was to fly home I received a message from him that said something like, I’ve looked over our budget. We need to make some changes. Vacuumed the entire house. Changes need to be made there too. See you soon.
Well, I don’t mind telling you I was pretty darned miffed. All night I fumed. So, he thinks I spend too much money does he? Well, one look in my closet where only six dresses hang and three pair of shoes sit on the floor, will prove I don’t. So, I don’t clean house good enough for him? Well, if he wants to take over the cleaning, more power to him.
At the airport in Tulsa, I had plenty of time to marinate in my anger. When I saw him, I could have frozen him with my stare. Clearly confused, he followed me as I sped to the luggage pick-up, all the while asking me what was wrong. Believe you me, I let him have it.
Neal was so shocked by my inference of his email, he had to sit down. “Linda, I meant that our budget had to be changed to provide you with more money. I saw your closet when I vacuumed it and realized you clearly needed more clothes. And after using that vacuum, I realized we need a new one. I would have bought one already, but I wanted you to get what you wanted.
By the time he finished I was looking for something to crawl under. Since that day, when one of us says something that nettles the other, we answer, “This is what I hear you saying,” which gives the other the opportunity to clarify.
Emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets are fertile seedbeds for misrepresentation, anger, negativity, and misunderstanding. Let us be careful. Yes, we are entitled to our opinion on our own page. Personally, I try to avoid controversial opinions even there. On another’s page, however, unless invited to do so, it is best to keep our opinions to ourselves.
That said, I violated this advice myself just a couple of days ago. A dear friend posted something that I had strong feelings about and I wrote a comment. Then I deleted it and wrote it again, edited and then posted. This violated my core value of peace and the nagging followed me like a whiney child. So I deleted it—again. What bothered me the most was the possible message she might have received from my comment. I would never want her to think that I thought of her as anything less than wonderful.
In my opinion it is best to send undeniable messages of peace, understanding, and love. AND yes, I was a teenager in the 70’s.