The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Problem With Written Communication



When Words Go Wrong

         Now and then we've all probably encountered those uncomfortable blog confrontations or awkward situations where things have turned a bit ugly.  Or there are those situations where perhaps something wasn't worded as well as it should have been or there may have even be a typographical error that made something come out wrong.   I've seen a number of communication snafus in my six years of blogging.   In recent weeks there have been some blogging incidents that I've noticed that brought to my mind this topic of the problems with written communication.  This is another one of those topics that has been sitting in my blog line-up to be used someday and now someday is here.

        There are so many ways that written communication can be misinterpreted by a reader.  Without the presence of body language, facial expressions, and vocal intonation, things are sometimes difficult to convey when taking into consideration what the receiving side is feeling or thinking.  I guess this is the main reason that people use those silly emoticons and texting abbreviations.  Those things used to kind of annoy me, but now I understand their functionality. 

Does Humor Work?

        Diplomacy is something I strive for and quite often fail at.  I don't know that I have ever intentionally shown much offense in my responses to comments or in the comments I have left anywhere.   There might have been instances where I have stated my displeasure with something that had been said, but typically I'm trying for a humorous angle.  I realize that a lot of readers don't get my humor and think I am being serious when I'm joking or I'm trying to illustrate the lighter side of a serious subject.

       My approach typically will be one of absurdity or a droll sort of humor that is intended to evoke a light reaction and not a big guffaw.  I might use sarcasm, satire, or punny stuff.  But if I'm upset I will say so and may even send a direct reply to someone.  This has been a rarity for me and the more blogging I have done, the more I have become aware of the potential for inadequacies in written communication.

Can We Talk?

       Written communication can easily be taken the wrong way and when it does it can sometimes take a bit of explainin' to do in order to unravel all the ties that start binding.  And I think this is an important approach.  We should be rational if we think an offense has been committed.  Rational adults should be able to work things out or at least come to an understanding about what each side is saying.   Agreeing to disagree is the better option that agreeing to be pissed off at the other person or even hate them.

        I totally understand that we all don't like or agree on the same things. Sometimes we may not even communicate in the same ways.  We are all different.  That's part of what makes life interesting.   We can make serious assessments, but we can also poke some fun.  If someone disagrees with me in a rational manner that's what I should accept.    As long as they are not personally attacking me in some way because I like something they don't then it's all good.   And even if they did personally attack me then that might just add another interesting dimension to it all.  In that case it would still be nice to get an explanation for the attack and some ultimate resolution in order to close things out in a righteous manner so to speak. 

No Truth Like the Real Truth

          I want the truth from people.  Remember, I've been the guy with the controversy posts.  I purposely try to incite debate and animated discussion.   I'm looking for other opinions to weigh mine against.  If we all thought the same things we wouldn't even have to communicate with each other.  You can rest assured that it's going to be pretty difficult to offend me with your honest opinion or by telling me what you see as the truth if you do it with decorum.   I love the discussion.   One of the most offensive comments you can leave me is "Nice blog post" or "You are invited to follow my blog"--now those kinds of comments do bug me.

        Your comments are great when you communicate what's really on your mind.  Please don't tell me something merely because you think it's what I want to hear or because you don't want to offend me in any way.   I love it when you comment and I'm disappointed only if you don't leave a comment.

        Oh, and I hope my comments on your blog are not anything you are offended by.  My approach there is like I explained above.   When I comment I'm either trying to be genuinely nice or complimentary or I'm trying to be Mr. Jokester Smart-ass.  I can't ever remember a time when I've left anyone a comment where I was intentionally trying to be vicious or obtuse.   If you are offended by what I say then just let me know and I'll try to explain what I was saying.   

        I'd much rather be known as a peacemaker than one who tears the world to pieces.

         Have you ever been guilty of a faux pas of written communication?  How do you repair the damage when you've offended someone else in written words?   Would you rather just let a misunderstanding be even if it cuts off a relationship with another person or do you prefer to fix things to make them better?

    My next post will be on Monday June 15th with another Battle of the Bands.   I'll also bring up an issue that some might find controversial, but some might be happy about it too.

85 comments:

  1. Great honest piece. Really enjoyed reading it. And your comments were always to the point. http://gularavincent.com

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    1. Gulara, an honor hearing this from you.

      Lee

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  2. I don't take too much serious that I don't like.

    Some of this may be due to teaching teenagers. They don't have the filter that many adults should have. Plus I have never felt people have to agree. It is that Southern idea that we will agree to disagree.

    Taking offense is a two-way street. If someone insults you intentionally is different from not liking what someone has written. It is about the reader's reaction which cannot always be predicted.

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    1. Ann, civil disagreement can actually lead to interesting discourse. The biggest problem comes when one side insists that their side is the right and the only way. That's when the mud can get slung or barriers thrown up. Sometimes we can offend and not even understand why until the reason for the offense is explained. No explanations then no lessons learned on either of the disagreeing sides.

      Lee

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  3. Remember when voice mail was a way to communicate without actually having to have a dialog? Hoping you would get their voice mail so you wouldn’t have to explain in detail why you couldn’t make the party.
    Then e-mail came along. Even better. You didn’t have to worry about making sure the tone of your voice sounded genuine when turning down the invite.
    Text messaging. A blessing, right? You could be brief, but emote, even if the emotion was canned. “Aww, sorry we can’t make it. : - ( ”
    Now with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and yes blogging, people have to come to you if they care to know what’s going on with you. And sometimes your only effort has to be captioned photos.
    Have we become so insular and perhaps a little too self absorbed that we have developed a fear of or perhaps a desensitization to face to face, (or ear to ear) interaction?
    We can hide behind our screen cloaks and let our fingers do the punching and jabbing without the fear of taking a blow to our <3.
    * - )
    An aside here: My husband is a collector of old postcards. It was, back in the day, probably a version of the style of brief communication we have today. I’m not sure how many characters you could fit into the message part of the card, but that was the way you found out how Aunt Nellie’s arthritis was, the new baby, or Grandpa’s passing.

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    1. Lyndagrace, so much of modern communication comes one side at a time which can be volatile for the mind. In the past letter writing was considered an art and great care and diplomacy was often put into those words. Now words fly fast and emotions can get out of hand even faster. We have lost a certain grace of diplomatic communicating.

      Lee

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  4. Hopefully people realize I sometimes respond with a bit of snark.
    Some people don't want to work it out though. They cling to a perceived offense and refuse to discuss it or forgive. Not much you can do in those cases.

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    1. Alex, I think pride often gets in the way of resolving issues. I know that can be my weakness. If I get offended I frequently spend more effort into building my defense than in trying to understand the other person's side. I've been trying to work on that. Sometimes a slow careful reaction is far better than off-the-cuff fast patter.

      Lee

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  5. I've learned that if I say something that's meant to be funny, I now end it with a smiley or winky face, an 'lol', or 'just kidding'. Text messages are especially difficult sometimes. My husband will send me something and unless he puts an lol after it, I sit here going, 'is he serious or joking?' And depending on the mood I'm in, I might fire back a 'what's THAT supposed to mean?' text then he thinks I'm pissed and we end up arguing over nothing.

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    1. JoJo, that's a frequent problem I think. We understand what we understand without hearing carefully the other person's side of the issue. A little more patience is sometimes the most essential part of maintaining a calm rational communication.

      Lee

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  6. Once or twice someone misunderstood what I intended. I was fortunate in that I was able to explain it further, as both times it was individuals I had a history with. Once someone just reacted totally out of left field to a post I made many years ago. Never did understand how they got on the thought path they did from the post I made. When I write about issues I believe in, surely everyone doesn't agree with me. Never had any truly mean comments though. I think most of the time the people who wouldn't like my viewpoint just don't read the post.

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    1. Barbara, many times we probably don't even hear from the people who are offended by something we say because we never hear from them. Offenses probably are more noticed in the comment section.

      Lee

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  7. Hi, Lee! This certainly is an important subject. Fortunately I have only been involved in two such incidents in my entire seven years of blogging. A few years ago, trying to be funny, I miscalculated and left a somewhat suggestive comment on the blog of an attractive woman. Her husband quickly emerged from backstage to defend his wife's honor. He tore into me, expressing righteous indignation over my inappropriate comment. I was shocked because I regarded my comment as harmless fun. After all, I frequently used colorful language on the blogs of other friends and they always got a laugh of out if. I forgot an important principle. Always know your audience. Although I was taken aback by the husband's angry reaction, an overreaction in my opinion, I swallowed my pride and immediately wrote a follow-up comment in which I explained the mindset that allowed me to write the damaging words. I then apologized to both the husband and the wife. What happened next surprised me, Lee, and it serves as a model. The wife/woman actually came to my defense and publicly explained to her husband and other readers that I meant no harm. She referred to me as "good people." I followed-up by thanking her and once again apologized for my lapse of judgement. That's the way to do it, Lee. That's exactly how simple it is for two or three civilized people to handle an awkward situation and produce a win-win. It's all about honest, sincere communication.

    Thanks again, Lee, and enjoy the rest of your Monday!

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    1. Shady, it's good to hear a happy outcome story. That's the way they should all turn out in the ideal world, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

      Lee

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  8. We forget that expressions and body language make up so much of communication. Online that is lost. Misunderstandings can arise and it takes both parties to set it right.

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    1. L.Diane, "both parties" is the key in your comment. One side can try to initiate the fix but it takes both sides to smooth everything out properly.

      Lee

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  9. One of the hardest things about conveying humor via text is sarcasm. A lot of people don't get it, and end up taking a statement we made very literally - in a blog post, or in a comment. I can see now why people like to put ":P" after sarcastic statements when talking via text message.

    Miscommunication sucks - also, it's bound to happen - but I would hope that if there was some kind of miscommunication between ourselves and a reader that they they'd contact us and ask about it amiably rather than biting our heads off or just leaving and never coming back. I think of it as a relationship kind of thing. Like, if you and I had a miscommunication, I'd e-mail you for clarification because I know you're not the type of guy to set out to offend us. I wouldn't assume you were trying to piss us off.

    With that said, though, if someone's blatantly being a dick, we won't tolerate it. We won't badmouth them or fight with them, we'll just break off communication. Being a peacemaker is great, but life is too short to waste it mending fences with someone who would prefer that fence remain broken.

    (A perfect example is the person you had a problem with a week or 2 ago, whose problem with you was rooted in miscommunication, and yet I don't think he's someone you want to associate with anyway).

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    1. Beer guys, it's nice when the humor is obviously humor and everyone has a good time with it. Sometimes more subtle humor can get taken the wrong way by certain people who take things too literally. Humor shouldn't need an explanation, but sometimes it needs to be done when someone doesn't get it.

      Lee

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  10. I believe in trying to get at the truth and understanding wherever possible. It's so easy to mis-hear or misunderstand someone's intent. None of us are perfect, so we need to cut each other some slack.

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    1. So true, Karen. An angry reaction should be balanced by a certain sense of reason. What we think we hear sometimes is not what was actually said.

      Lee

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  11. Really great content is this post, good Sir.....
    ... a good example of being "hurt" by words..... "Hot Topix" has "forums"... my Town has a "city Forum" there.... a bit back, they used this "Forum" to tell really Bad things about me ... ( even claiming that I grew "Demon-Possessed" Pumpkins...!!!) they went on to label me the "Greatest Villain" of this Town... even over big-time drug-dealers and murderers....
    ... finally a preacher had to get on there and tell all of these people to stop harassing me...
    ... what you are talking about has to do with "perceived wrongs"...
    our view (perception) of a problem is often much worse than the actual problem... as well as create "problems" that do not even exist....
    Around here they often just toss "reason" out the door....

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    1. Dr. Theda, "demon-possessed pumpkins" might help sales at Halloween--maybe that was a marketing ploy from someone trying to help you with the pumpkin trade.

      I avoid the forums and chat rooms now that I've found blogging. Those sites can get vicious sometimes especially when other participants start feeding off something bad someone else has said and then the attack comes from all sides.

      Lee

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  12. I don't think I've run into many problems along these lines. I did put a graphic on one of my posts that could have potentially been offensive to some people, but I did warn them in the text. Most that commented were okay with my use of the material.

    Sarcasm can be tough to pull off in the written word, and (as far as I know) I haven't offended anyone yet.

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    1. Tamara, sometimes we not even know that someone has been offended other than we might suspect it because we stop getting comments from them.

      Lee

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  13. I find sometimes people read too fast or are in a crappy mood and then take it the wrong way even more. But meh, the cat can handle the hate haha

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    1. Pat, there can be many factors as you indicate that could cause a misunderstanding. Skimming through to read just certain main points can often cause someone to miss subtleties of what is actually being said and only catch the parts that offend them. Or they might only read an offensive part at the beginning of a post and read through to the explanation of why something was said. But thick skin is often necessary to get past those who start railing against us.

      Lee

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  14. I find this whole post offensive, and you are wrong!

    The two dynamics I think that drive offense are the need of most people to be right all the time (even when the topic is not a right or wrong subject-like BOTB) and the fact that our society has gotten a little think skinned over the past couple of decades.

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    1. Larry, not to cause any offense to you but maybe you meant "thin skinned" instead of "think skinned". Then again the latter could be true since I think a lot of times offended people start over thinking what was said and start imagining more than was intended. Our society has become hyper-sensitive to the point where if we say the not societally acceptable line of thinking we get labeled with an -ism or a -phobia or get called haters. Opinions are only right for certain things or if the meet with the approval of another who might become offended.

      Sometimes a bit of light-hearted banter can be fun and intellectually stimulating if handled with intelligence. And sometimes it's interesting to just have a exchange of reasonable civil debate even if the two parties don't come to a mutual agreement. As long as there is mutual respect then at least we had the discussion with no harmful outcome.

      With the presidential campaigns coming up we'll see a lot of dirt flying I'm sure.

      Lee

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  15. I agree:)-oops there is that laughy thing which I do constantly and people must be sick of by now. I do this often so people realize I mean no harm or I am genuinely smiling when I write something. I have constant foot in mouth disease. Gosh I just read the great and sweet Robyn's blog and I looked back to see if she responded to my comment about Caitlyn/Bruce. I joked about why he had to spell his name with a Y. In my blonde way, I totally forgot she spelled her name with a Y. Thankfully she is a sweet lady and knew I meant nothing. In the end , if people get upset by something that was meant as no harm and only voicing your own opinion anyway, then they may get upset by many other things too. OK signing off as Byrgyt

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    1. :))) or should I say LOL! Birgit? I used to hate those emoticon symbols or whatever they are. I still tend to avoid them unless I see that something I've said has a real possibility of being taken wrong. But I do understand the functionality of the written replacements for body language and facial expression.

      Lee

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  16. I admire you for so succinctly expressing your views on such a relevant matter. I’m inclined to always try to make amends, but if that isn’t possible (haters gonna hate) you just have to shake it off! I do apologize (up front!); kids have been listening to Taylor Swift all morning!

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    1. Diedre, thank you. I think it's best to try to leave the welcome mat out, but sometimes there's nothing we can do and just have to leave things as they are.

      Not sure about Taylor Swift as I've not listened to much of her music very closely. She's supposed to be good isn't she?

      Lee

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  17. I try really hard not to offend people. Sometimes I really disagree with a post but I'll either not comment or carefully word my comment. I probably have irritated someone along the way and have had some comments on my own posts that I didn't like but like you say, honest discussion is better than meaningless words.

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    1. Susan GK, I think it's virtually impossible to go through life without offending someone now and then, especially on a public forum where many of those we encounter are for all practical purposes strangers. I try to be careful too, but offense can happen.

      Lee

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  18. OMG, Arlee, I worry about the same thing! You can't always tell tone with a written message and sometimes I'll hit publish and go, "Wait; I hope that didn't come across wrong." But thankfully, I think most people who know me will give me the benefit of the doubt, and it'll probably be the same with you.

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    1. Quanie, I think our regular audiences typically understand and are willing to overlook something that doesn't seem quite right. But you never know.

      Lee

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  19. Back when I first started blogging (was at it less than a year), I threw out a very controversial topic. The comments got very ugly amongst my friends. Honestly, it made me sick to my stomach. It all went from disagreeing over the topic at hand to throwing insults on a personal level. I hated it. I liked all of the parties involved (disagreed with half of them, but that didn't make me dislike them or want to insult them). Finally, I turned off the ability to comment on the post. I considered taking the entire post down. I agonized over it for a long time. I think I even entertained thoughts of just not blogging any longer.

    I think we all need to remember that there is a person on the other side of the keyboard at all times.

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    1. Robin, I've been on the threshold of those feelings as well. I guess some things rise the ire of some people so much that it's difficult to discuss them without getting a bit emotional. I'm glad you hung in there.

      Lee

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  20. I've seen people lose their minds over an email they received. They'll read it and inject their own perceived tone (which is always negative). So many don't even talk on the phone where at least you can get an idea of tone.

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    1. Jay, those people who are overly sensitive with an email or a phone conversation are likely the same way face to face. I think some people just see life in a way that makes them feel like everyone else is against them or out to get them. Any kind of communication can be difficult with someone in that frame of mind.

      Lee

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  21. I've never thought of your blog posts as controversial, but some people do get offended easily.

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    1. Karen, some of my blog posts are purposely geared toward discussion which often leads to controversial comments. I like to start the conversation and see where it leads.

      Lee

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  22. It was suggested once that we come up with a "sarcasm font" for certain occasions. I'll admit some of your humor skiffs off the remainders of my hair and slides on by, but usually I figure out what you're getting at. My problem seems to come with people who have no sense of humor at all. Once upon a time as a security guard, I drew a cartoon involving a fellow guard and his habit of zooming in at the last minute. It was cute and clean, and relatively harmless- and the next day, I found it wadded up in the trash can because he was offended. I've run across others who were the same way on FB. "I do too have a sense of humor, and my wife writes for comedy screenplays!" "Explains why no one watches network tv anymore," I thought and kept to myself. You people out there that don't get my humor, you should live with the little comedian in the back of my head- that guy offends ME.

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    1. CW, I've heard mention of that "sarcasm font" which in some ways could be good, but then again it takes away part of the purpose and fun of sarcasm. I think actual sarcasm holds an element of truth but perhaps exaggerated to a certain extent where as there are other names for other types of humor which I can't think of at this moment.

      Each of us has our own weird sense of humor about certain things that certain other people just don't get. Humor is always a risk I suppose--people either think it's funny, don't think it's funny, or just don't think period.

      Lee

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  23. I have been told I have been humourous in my blog when I didn't realise it. I think it is very difficult to convey humour in the written word. What I perceive as funny may not be the same as your perception. You certainly do provoke lots of discussion though Lee.

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    1. Jo, maybe you should analyze those things that people think are funny in order to develop your skill for writing humor. Understanding how humor works is like a science, albeit a very imprecise and ambiguous science.

      Lee

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    2. Trouble is I don't always know what it was they found funny. I get comments like "I love your sense of humour" er, you do?

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    3. Well you can always ask. That is puzzling though.

      Lee

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  24. In my opinion, this very topic has been trotted out way too often and I'm tired of it, so I won't have much to say here, but...

    >>... "Written communication can easily be taken the wrong way and when it does it can sometimes take a bit of explainin' to do in order to unravel all the ties that start binding. ... We should be rational if we think an offense has been committed. Rational adults should be able to work things out or at least come to an understanding about what each side is saying."

    Yeah, that's all well and good, and I happen to agree with it 100%. However, there's a little monkey-wrench that can be thrown into those works, and that monkey-wrench went without comment here.

    Sometimes a person or persons can make every attempt to rationally explain why a misunderstanding on the part of an offended person was just THAT - a misunderstanding. Sometimes a person can even go to great lengths explaining, and illustrating every detail, every fine point that contributed to the offended person's misperception.

    HOWEVER, if that person will have "none of it!" - if that person simply will not accept every honest, rational explanation that has been offered, which logically demystifies the misunderstanding, and that person still INSISTS on clinging to the personal offense (which was already proven to have been NO PERSONAL OFFENSE AT ALL), then all this yakking about "explaining" and "rational adults" and "understanding" and "working things out" is no more than a bunch of useless gobbledegook and balderdash!

    When all the explaining in the world (e.g., even a lengthy, 3-part comment) can't get an "Oh, I see it now, I misunderstood" out of a person, when "SORRY" SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD due to a lack of humility, there's no hope of a reconciliation. It's time to burn the bridge behind you and move forward.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. STMcC:

      In my opinion, this very topic has been trotted out way too often and I'm tired of it,...

      That's your opinion and nothing wrong with that. I, like you, write blog posts that will hopefully elicit reactions in the form of comments and maybe even conversation. Judging from the preceding comment section I have successfully achieved my mission in the first few hours my post is up. Since I'm only posting this one bit this week then there will be far more opportunities for others to continue the conversation. I am playing the role of blogger and doing that job to some satisfaction in my opinion.

      And what topics are really new and haven't been trotted out that often? I've repeated myself numerous times and continue to get decent comments other than the "nice blog" variety so I don't know that the case is closed. Misunderstandings and miscommunication seems to happen on a regular basis in the world of blogging as well as all other forms of communication. Apparently the issues still aren't completely resolved therefore continue to be relevant.

      However, there's a little monkey-wrench that can be thrown into those works, and that monkey-wrench went without comment here.

      This particular post was written about 2 years ago and resulted from an email of apology and explanation to a blogger who felt that I had insulted them. Take note of how often I used personal pronouns--that was because this blogger was me. Thankfully the blogger who was upset with me and I are still friends after having come to an understanding about something I said.

      I'd been bumping this post up my queue for months and it just seemed relevant right now. What I've said here is something I believe to be true and so far all of the comments seem to be in agreement with what I've said. I don't think they are lying or just saying things to make me feel good. If they are then they didn't pay attention to what I said here.

      The way I see it is that communication between people comes from different minds that might have different beliefs, opinions, world views, or whatever and conflict stemming from misunderstanding can easily arise. Everyone (at least everyone normal) wants to be right and probably believes they are right up to that end point if they concede they were wrong or the other party does so.

      Sometimes the simple sorry is not enough and has to be completely understood. There may be times when one side stubbornly stands their ground and we do have to move on, but to me there's always some hope of reconciliation between rational thinking humans--if we let it happen.

      That's always been my mission in life in the relationships I've had. I don't burn bridges though there may be some I'm going to stop trying to cross if I feel there is going to be an angry resistance on the other side. I try to be kind and forgiving and sometimes it's really difficult.

      I don't want to put up a "Keep Out" sign on my life for those who like me are just trying to live life and might have a difference of opinion with me. Of course if we're dealing with pure evil and people who are trying to hurt me or those I love then that's a different story. So far I can't recall encountering anyone like that in this faceless world of blogging.

      So in closing, I can only speak for me and this is what this post was originally about. Now just seemed like a good time to post it.

      In the future I can assure you that there is probably a good bet that out pull up old chestnut topics like this one to have something to post about. I have my rehashed topics and you have yours. If they work then we'll keep using them. When they stop working we'll probably shelve them for good. At least that's the way I see it.

      Lee


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    2. I said: "In my opinion, this very topic has been trotted out way too often and I'm tired of it, so I won't have much to say here"

      Note, I didn't say the topic has no merit.
      I didn't say YOU should stop writing about it.
      I didn't say EVERYONE should stop writing about it.

      I simply said I, personally, am tired of it (coming up as blog bits and in comment sections), and that's the reason I have no intention of getting drawn into a long discussion on it here. OK?

      But if you like it, go with it, LEE. It's your blog and for all I care you could write on this topic 24/7/365.

      ... "I don't burn bridges though there may be some I'm going to stop trying to cross if I feel there is going to be an angry resistance on the other side."

      Sometimes I DO burn bridges to save my own peace of mind. But as for the rest of your sentence above goes, I feel exactly the same way.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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  25. Many people don't get my sarcastic sense of humor also. Which is why I have to resort to those emoticons frequently. And also why an insult has to be blatantly obvious for me to realize a person is not just being sarcastic. In writing - especially like blog posts and articles - it is even easier to offend people.

    I don't mind "rough around the edges" comments and discussions. People should not have to watch themselves all the time. We are all human.

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    1. Dolorah, I think we are all entitled to some slip ups now and then and in the same way we should look past some indiscretions of others unless they become blatantly cruel or slanderous, then we are entitled to ask what the heck is going on.

      Lee

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  26. Sarcasm is hard to convey online, which is a shame because it's my go-to form of humor. Many times it's gotten me into trouble on various forums, but so far not on my blog. I've tried to stray away from the sarcastic humor on my blog though and lean more toward the silly or none at all.
    I feel like if I offend anyone, I'd like them to let me know. If it's silly I'll let them know that, but if it's legitimate... let's discuss it, right?
    Back in the day I used to deliberately rile people up for giggles, but have since grown out of that. What's the point, you know?

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    1. Madilyn, I'm with you on the way problems should be addressed on a blog. Sarcasm can really backfire so I usually try to avoid it.

      Lee

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  27. Interesting topic and you're so right, Lee, about the written word being misunderstood. I'm one of those frequent offenders who uses the emoticons. It's habit, but also a good way to convey the tone of a comment. I don't consider your posts controversial in the least and there's nothing wrong with differences of opinion, as long as civility isn't abandoned. I too am puzzled by those who insult others for thinking differently and try to convince them they're wrong. "Live and let live"! There's never been any nastiness on my site and it's fairly rare on other blogs I visit. Social forums on the other hand, are rife with trolls and shit disturbers. I've been through many a battle there, but only if the subject matter is something I feel strongly about.

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    1. Debbie, I think since you've started reading I haven't touched too much on controversy like I had been doing. I have some of those posts coming up again so watch out! There's a big difference between rational discussion and just defending your own position no matter how you do it. Admitting wrong also can be tough and a lot of people are unwilling to do that.

      Lee

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    2. Looking forward to those controversies you mentioned! ☺ True, some people find it hard to apologize, which only leads to a festering of the situation.

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  28. Well, I'll admit that I am kind of sensitive to things, which may not bode all that well being online like I am. People online will say things to you that they'd never dare say to you in person; I've tested that one by the way and when you're looking down on someone with a smile that's not necessarily friendly asking them to say it to you in person... just sayin'...

    Of course, you mentioned emoticons, and that's exactly why I started going that route years ago. I'm also one of those folks who believes in politically correct speech, which I believe you eschew in general, because I don't want things to escalate because of misunderstanding or words that are a bit too direct. I find that as I age I get less inclined to want to deal with certain types of language and demeanor, and for the most part I'll avoid it unless I start it, in which case I'm ready to take it if I need to. However, I always hope my wording is such that no one will take offense.

    Then again, the posts I've always thought would generate the most heat have never panned out; it's those innocuous posts where you think you're talking about something that almost no one should care about that surprise you. :-) <--- see, there's one now! lol

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    1. Mitch, I try to be very careful about what topics I bring up and what words I use. I like stirring the pot in a fun way, but when things get roiling boiling angry a lot of fun goes away and readers get burned to the point that some won't come back.

      I'm still not used to the emoticon language, but now I see the value not only in text speak, but in blog text. Sometimes something is need to show readers that you're not out to incite anger but to evoke a smile and even some thinking.

      You're right about those posts that get the biggest reactions. It's often either the throwaway posts that I was just using to fill up a day or a topic that I've used several times. Some topics never seem to get old.

      Lee

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  29. Things can get muddled very quickly, especially when someone is in a bad mood or always likes to see the bad instead of the good. I've been involved in a few cases when I was completely joking and the person took me seriously. I forget that not everyone understands my sense of humor. Live and learn.

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    1. TBM, state of mind can be a huge factor. Sometimes I'll be in a bad mood or have something weighing heavily upon me when I compose a blog post and that will come through to the readers. That can be a good thing in some ways, but it can also make readers uncomfortable. That's one advantage to writing posts in advance--at least you have some time to reflect on what you've said and take it back or revise it if you don't want to create misunderstandings.

      Commenting is much different in its immediacy and reactive stance. If someone is in the wrong mood it enters into how a post is interpreted and that can lead to the clash of thinking between the post author and the one commenting. I've done that joking thing too that was taken wrongly and it can get sticky. In fact most of this current post was the result of an email apology I had sent to a blogger a couple years ago to try to fix a misunderstanding. Fortunately things turned out okay in that case.

      Lee

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  30. Yikes what a lot of discussion your post provoked Lee! I can't think of anything useful to add except yes, we have to be aware of audience, we have to be decent people who do not wish to offend in any way, or harm or hurt, or be rude and thoughtless.

    Sometimes people I suppose can be offended in spite of all decency and they let rant ... response to that? Well, I don't really know as this hasn't happened to me. I guess I would try to get to the bottom of it - apologise firstly. Would I defend my position taken in the blog? There's another question ...

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    1. Susan, if I truly believe in what I'm saying and someone disputes me illogically then, yes, I'll be likely to defend my position. But if someone counters with a logical argument that makes me rethink my position then I'm likely to say that on my blog as well.

      Fortunately, I don't have too many problems directly with this sort of thing. Or if so, only in a relatively minor way.

      Lee

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  31. Ah, the pitfalls of emails and texting, I know it well! And you're so right: without the benefit of voice inflection and tone, so much is lost in the written communication. I recently fell victim to that just recently: I was responding to a comment on FB and at the time I was holding a dog in one hand and typing with the other and I didn't realize it but I had my caps lock on and just typed away. The person wrote back "Don't yell at me!" And I was like "What yelling??!" I wrote back an apology and "Sorry, my caps lock was on." It got straightened out right away but could've easily been ugly. I certainly wasn't yelling but apparently someone decided to make a rule that typing in ALL CAPS indicates that you are yelling. Won't make that mistake again, I hope.
    I've had several instances where communications can be taken the wrong way. I'm glad we do have those emoticons because if I am saying something smart-assy, I can indicate that I'm just joking by using the smiley face. At least I hope that lets the other person know I'm just being a smart ass.
    I think it's always best to try to resolve communication breakdowns. Because some of the breakdowns can be so damaging and life-long friendships can be affected by a simple correspondence. Always best to resolve. That's my way, anyway...
    Good post!
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, I had that "all-caps" thing happen to me back when I was working. I was sending an email to someone in our home office and like my boss always did I sent the message in all caps. I was kind of new to emailing. Anyway, the fellow to whom I sent my message sent back an indignant reply and wanted to know why I was shouting at him. I had no idea what he was talking about and asked him. He then emailed an explanation and I was more careful after that. My boss still continued to send terse messages in all caps but I think he was always in such a hurry he didn't want to mess with the shift key or other issues of proper written communication. When you're the boss I guess you can get away with it.

      Lee

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  32. Phew, folk have said a lot about your post Mr B what can I add except . . . . . . . . . Nice post. . . . . .HAH AHAHha ha ha hah a ha ha ha hah ah ah ahhah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha h aha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah

    Its OK Mr B I dont mean it. . . . .Hang on that cant be right. . . DAMN

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  33. Hey Lee, dude in the hat and sunglasses,

    You can relax now. Yes, I have arrived with one of my eagerly anticipated comments.

    Coincidentally, I was discussing the points about not being able to see the tonal inflections, the facial expressions, to a blogger via an email the other day. It can be a rather unfortunate situation when something that was well meaning can be misconstrued. Thankfully, this doesn't happen to me that often.

    Rest assured, good sir, your comments on my site have never offended. You have to try much harder!

    We come from different blogging angles. I revel in being virtually unknown. Keeps me under the blogging radar and that's fine. You sir, revel in attention and that's fine.

    With that, no more of that bloody A to Z or alphabet reflections and alphabet tours! DO YOU UNDERSTAND!!!!! :)

    Excellent, thoughtful post, Lee.

    Gary :)

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    1. Thanks, Gary. In the future I will make more of an effort to be obnoxious and offensive. :)

      Lee

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  34. Misunderstandings will always happen. I tend to double check texts and messages and emails constantly before I send them:)

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    1. Jennifer, I too try to double check yet sometimes something goes out wrong though it's usually just a minor typo or misuse of a word.

      Lee

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  35. Because written communication of a personal nature is so prone to misunderstanding I do not permit anyone to contact me via text. It's cumbersome, it's inefficient and it's open to misinterpretation. For the life of me, I've no idea why anyone uses it. If a family member wishes to speak to me, I insist that they do just that-speak.

    Further I have a long standing policy of no personal communications via email with my fellow bloggers. I will communicate blogger business via email (give aways, exchanging mini's etc) and that must be limited to two or three lines at most.

    That just leaves me with the perils of written communication in comment sections on blogger.

    On blogger I live in two different worlds. The world of my hobby which consists primarily of British males who are historical painters. Also there is an understood code of behaviour. Interaction is brief, rarely personal and non emotional. In all my years, I have only seen that code violated once.

    The rest of blogger can be more difficult as it has more of a "wild west" feel to it. This makes it more difficult for me to know what I can say to whom without causing offense. In my early days of blogging I know I said some ridiculous things and am grateful that more experienced bloggers tolerated me as I learned how to do things. My survival as a blogger came down to just that-tolerance and understanding.

    I do my best to understand that mistakes happen and that people have bad days. I have bad days myself and can still at times make mistakes. However outright cruelty is easy to spot and that I won't tolerate.

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    1. Anne, I don't mess with texting either. Don't have the capability on my phone and don't care to use it. I don't mind some email though. I can understand your position on email correspondence with bloggers. I think I'm in a somewhat different situation. I don't mind corresponding with bloggers and so far that has worked out just fine.

      There is no place for cruelty in blogging or anywhere as far as I'm concerned. Sometimes humor can be cruel and I don't know that the person using realizes how cruel it can be. Other times it's pretty obvious that they're trying to get under somebody's skin and provoke a reaction.

      Lee

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  36. Ooops, I think I forgot to add a few extra thoughts to my comment above. Please forgive me. Yes, I have made a faux pas on occasion, and I agree, written communication can be tricky. I recently posted a reply on another bloggers post. The blog article was about changing the look because someone complained about how her blog looked. As I usually do, I wrote a lengthy reply and at one point wrote. "No one is going to like the look of your blog". When I reread the comment I already posted, (glad I reread it) I was mortified. That was NOT the comment I wanted to leave. I was trying to say that 'Not everyone is going to like the look of your blog'. So I posed a follow up comment and corrected the matter. And then, there are the text messages we sent. And like you, I find emoticons enraging, but essential. If my memory serve me correct, I already mentioned the LOL story about the uncle who died? And like a comma saving a life. "Let's eat grandma" opposed to "Let's eat, grandma". A smilie can turn "I hate your cooking" from a scathing remark, to a smarmy retort. And if the recipient knows your sense of humour, they will likely understand.

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    1. Jeffrey, the LOL story was great.

      I think humor has to be administered to the right people at the right time in the right way or it can be misinterpreted. I'm careful using humor with bloggers I don't know.

      I've also tried to be helpful but giving advice. Usually I get no response, but actually those people don't give anybody a response. Mostly because they don't get comments which is probably because people don't like how their blog looks. I guess you can't fault us for trying to be helpful.

      Lee

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  37. Nice blog post... er, I mean... :)

    I totally understand how humor can be taken the wrong way. I try to write humor in my novellas, and often wonder if I'm funny, or if it falls flat. And I often fall short of diplomacy. I typically need to have someone else read what I wrote when it's on a touchy subject, because my message will often come off as if I was a 5-letter-word. I don't want to be a bad word, so I let other people check for me. If it gets too touchy of a subject, then I avoid it all together.

    You haven't ticked me off so far, so that makes us good in my book!

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    1. Loni, humor takes a special skill and some humor that goes over well with some people will fall flat or even rile others. Have something read through for you can help. I don't think we can adequately screen all touchy subjects on our own.

      Lee

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  38. Yes good Sir a bit of humor can make a "bitter pill" easier to take....
    ... and "Stacey's" sleeping habits.... can go for days with little or no sleep... hour of the day means very little...
    a great day to you good Sir Arlee...

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    1. Dr. Theda, just so the "humor" doesn't create more bitterness.

      Lee

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  39. Ahhh, yes, the written word. So gentle, yet so incredibly vicious and ruthless.

    Personally, about 97% of my written real word correspondence (e-mail) has gotten me into trouble. Never over words but over tone. Some people may think that tone is very hard to put into e-mails, but I find it ridiculously easy.

    You can take a sentence and depending on the tone you use for the e-mail, it can either be taken in a good way or a bad way. I've had people take offense, either righteously or sanctimoniously over stuff I had written. The difference being with the former I would get into trouble, the latter being that they would get into trouble.

    So it's not so much words that you use but tone. Like you, I use humor a lot but depending on your inflection/tone, the humor can either be good or bad.

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    1. GB, 97% is a pretty high trouble rate. I also think tone in writing can be easy or at least seems that way. Often it's just how others take it. If I want to piss people off I think I can pull that off with written words, but sometimes people are going to get upset just because of the subject matter and how they react to it.

      We can control what we write, but we have little control over how people will take when we've written or decide to read into it.

      Lee

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  40. This post came at a strange time in my life. I believe in working things out if I have inadvertently offended someone. Sometimes people don't want an apology. These are the people that thrive on conflict. My family is arguing to the point of a threatened law suit over something so insignificant in the overall scheme of things.

    I agree with you 100% about the written word. When we don't have people in front of us and can't observe the wink, smile or other tell sign it is far too easy to misinterpret words. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. I think that many people take offense far too easily and without the benefit of facial gestures and body language, it is easier to jump to conclusions. I think that when we choose to blog or write and we offend someone then we should offer the offended party an explanation, but in no way does that mean we should be compelled to change our opinion. We have the right to share our thoughts, beliefs and opinions. If someone does not agree with or want to read what we have to say, they have the same easy choice to click off the site and move on to another. That may sound harsh and a little off topic, but that's how I see it.

    I enjoyed your article.

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  41. If I hadn't just gotten back from being gone for a week, I'd write something longer, but, then, you know how I am with speaking my mind.
    :P
    (Oh, look! There's that little guy you were talking about!)

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
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Lee