Gracious Communication in the Internet Age: What Works?

Today was going along just fine — productive, happy, and relatively stress free — until a certain email crossed my desk.

The name and subject of the email will be withheld so that hopefully I can forget this dialogue ever happened. Suffice it to say, I read the initial email which was a request for action. I held it in my inbox, not responding as I was working on other items, and soon received a second email. The second email contained a renewed request, more strongly worded than the first. Without pausing to pray, I concluded the action that had been requested and fired off a relatively curt response. The two initial emails were “filed”, taking them away from my attention.

About thirty minutes later, I received a third email, offering an apology. The emailer felt that they surely must have offended me, to receive such an officious response. This emailer knew me well enough to note that an email containing not a single “!” or “lol” was surely out of character.

Emails flew back and forth between the two of us, apologizing for offending and having been offended. I fessed up to an overabundance of work and tried to lighten the mood, but in reality I actually was offended. In the end, I prayed, for the emailer, and for my own forgiveness in having overreacted.

Oh what a tangled web we weave with our modern forms of communication. So easy to jump to false conclusions, so quick to judge and be judged. So simple to “write off” relationships simply because we’ll likely never meet in real life. So many words, so little true feeling…

The interaction has me feeling a bit dirty and a lot in need of the Sacrament of Penance.

Was it my fault? Who knows.

Will I let it happen again any time soon? Hopefully not.

How do you avoid miscommunication in your online endeavors?

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About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at LisaHendey.com and connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.


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