Thursday, August 4, 2011

Why are people rude?

What does your private communication with your followers or clients say about you?

I’m going to confess to two scenarios where I made an error when referring to someone hosting a blogging challenge. No big deal you might think, but it got me thinking ...

The first: I published a post where I got the gender of someone hosting a blog challenge incorrect.

The second: via email, where I referred to a co-host of a blog challenge incorrectly, using their last name as if it was the first name.

In the first instance, the error was tactfully brought to my attention and fixed promptly.

In the second, the return email inferred that I was not only lazy in not checking the order of the first and last names more carefully and bluntly stated that I was not giving the co-host the attention they deserved.

In the first instance I felt I was seen as a human being with failings that were accepted. It could also have been acknowledgement that ‘people get my first and last names mixed up all the time’, or even, ‘silly woman, didn’t she see the very masculine photo on my blog, it’s obvious I’m not female!’ I felt a bit silly, but it was all fixed with a minimum of fuss.

In the second instance the message was that I’m a sloppy, careless person who shows a lack of respect. I can apologise of course, but at the moment feel that further communication isn’t going to achieve much - I feel that I have been judged and found to be inadequate.

I then began reflecting on the reasons people make ‘mistakes’ that may on first glance appear to be careless and how in all our communication we reflect aspects of ourselves, which can sometimes be misconstrued.

But deeper than that, the response got me thinking about my personal work and how I respond to emails and phone calls. Am I generous in my dealings with clients? Do I give them the attention they deserve?

Of course many of us are time poor. Life gets pretty busy with work, family, friends, blogging and all the complexities of life. Sometimes we aren’t as careful as might be ideal, but if added to that was the pressure to be perfect in our communication, would we get anything done? Do I respect this when I receive an awkwardly worded email?

I'm slightly dyslexic, and don't always notice errors of reversals and misspellings. Am I tolerant of misspellings by others?

How does living with chronic pain affect your communication? If you’re recovering from a medical procedure, and the after effects of an anaesthetic, how does that affect your ability to communicate, and the way others perceive you?

People live with ADD, ADHD; there are connections in the brain and body that make concentration difficult, even alien. Many people who communicate with us are functioning as best they can, some will be suffering the effects of low or fragile self-esteem, having been bullied at home or work. How does this sound in an email or tentative phone call? Do I remember to 'read between the lines'?

How much courage does it take for someone to make the first tentative step to call for an appointment? If it’s taken 6 months, could my response set them back even further, perhaps never to seek help again?

Do I judge before I think? 

And perhaps equally as important, do I allow myself to make mistakes, or do I bully myself for being less than perfect?

It's always interesting to see where thoughts lead - I'm almost grateful for what at first seemed an inconsiderate, rude and condescending email.

Q: What do you think? Has illness or some other life event affected how you communicate? How have others responded to you?

**I'll be away for a few weeks in China, and due to their restrictions will be unable to access Blogger or post replies. I look forward to catching up with you all when I return.

I've shared a couple of photos of Macau over at jumping aground - link here.



Anonymous said...

I suffer from chronic foot in mouth disease. I put it down to uncurbed enthusiasm.
China? Really? How cool is that?

sue said...

Delores, let's hear it for 'uncurbed enthusiasm' (which sounds so much more positive than foot in mouth) YAY!

It'll certainly be an interesting trip, I'm looking forward to it.

David L Macaulay said...

I woundn't worry too much about this Sue - it sounds like the kind of thing I'm always doing

Bob said...

Last week I met a friend I worked with for years, and just at that moment, couldn't remember her name, or where we worked together! **it happens.

Talk about DORK!

I think you're great, Sue!

China? Lucky, Lucky, Peking Ducky!

sue said...

David, thankyou, I do tend to over think things. Glad to know I'm in good company!

Bob, yup, I know that one all too well. I find it very unsettling, and usually wonder if I'm losing my marbles. Thanks for the vote of encouragement!

Anonymous said...

I have passed on an award to you. said...

I've made lots of mistakes like that in the blog world - referring to folks by the wrong name, etc. I don't fault a brain condition. I'm a good, well-intentioned person and if my klutziness is as bad as it gets (it pretty much is), I can forgive myself. If only others wouldn't get uptight about things like that. Human mistakes are just that and not indicative of a person's character.

Michelle said...

I made your same mistake #2 recently. I was communicating with a lady at a bank by email and addressed her by her surname instead of her first name. I realized my mistake and promptly apologized. She was very polite about it and said it happened often but thanked me all the same. It was a genuine mistake and by openly apologizing (as opposed to not caring enough to bring it up or by ignoring my mistake) the lady was gracious in her response to me in a professional capacity and we moved forward.