First of all, a big shout out and “thank you” to the good folks of WordPress.com who chose my post from yesterday, Of Death, Dementia and Dear Old Friends, to be featured on their “Freshly Pressed” page. This is the first time a post from this blog made it onto that site (where they daily feature about 11 selections from over a half million daily WordPress blog posts), and my site’s traffic tripled! So “hello” to everyone who is just now discovering my little blog thanks for “Freshly Pressed.” I hope you’ll drop in and and say hello from time to time.
One of the nice things about getting so much extra attention is that I received lots of comments on the post. Yesterday’s post was about my decision to write a letter to an old friend who I thought had died, but learned this week is alive, although suffering from dementia. I specifically said in my post, “I’m going to write her a letter.” But a significant number of the comments left on the post ran along these lines:
- “i suggest no matter what, write it.”
- “Definitely write the letter.”
- “Write the letter. Now.”
- “What does it cost you? Get in touch.”
- “I say write the letter, you won’t regret it!”
- “Write the letter to her; it sounds like you both need it.”
- “I vote for you to write the letter.”
I appreciate all these words of support and encouragement, but what blows my mind is that I wasn’t thinking about writing the letter, I actually wrote a letter. After I received two or three of these “Go ahead and do it already!” comments, I left a comment to that effect:
It’s interesting, but people seem to be under the impression that I was only thinking about writing the letter. But, no, as I said in the post, “I’m going to write…” and, in fact, I just mailed the letter about half an hour ago.
But even after posting that comment, still a number of my respondents left comments implying that I still needed to be persuaded to do this thing (to their credit, plenty of other folks left comments that basically said, “Glad to hear you wrote the letter”).
I’m reminded yet again of how fragile our communication process really is. If something as simply as saying “I intend to write a letter” can be so easily misconstrued as “I might write a letter,” is it any wonder that we have such a screamingly difficult time connecting with one another? How often, despite our best intentions, do we fail to communicate what we’re really trying to say, either because we can’t quite articulate our message artfully enough, or the folks on the receiving end are not fully paying attention, or simply misunderstand us, no matter how direct or eloquent our words might be?
Please understand, I’m not trying to criticize anyone who left a comment yesterday. I’m not angry or unhappy at anyone who left comments; the fact that so many of them misunderstood me is, to me, a sign that either I have a lot of learning to do concerning the art of clear and effective communication, or else all of us human beings need to acknowledge just how easy it is to get things wrong when we speak, write, read, or listen. And what that means is that it would be a good thing if we all tried to slow down when we communicate, and cut each other a little slack when we’re not quite making the connection we want to make. Being gentle and forgiving with one another is a good thing, don’t you think? Especially when we keep in mind just how easy it is for communication to breakdown, for no other reason than that’s what sometimes happens.