Posted by: minnow | July 16, 2010

Being Right or Feeling Right

Have you ever been embarassaed by your own behavior?  Recently I was part of a FB conversation that ended rather badly.  I admit I was not the most cordial.  In fact, I was actually quite perturbed and in a foul enough mood to let some of it show (not an excuse, just an explanation of my behavior).  I wish I could hit the rewind button.  Unfortunately real life conversations do not generally work that way.

One of the other commenters on the status update eventually de-friended the host and erased all his comments.  As a result a couple of the rest of the folks in the conversation ended up sounding a bit odd since we suddenly appeared to be making statements that had no connection to another person’s comment.   In truth what we responded to was simply no longer present. 

I realize without the benefit of seeing and hearing the people one talks to a fairly large percentage of communication can be lost–no intonation, no body language.  Still, most of the time I believe I understand what others are saying and can make myself understood.   Not so this time.  At least by the end of the conversation the sense I got from the young man who eventually left was that he felt misunderstood and falsely characterized.  Actually the feeling was mutual.  Obviously my early rudeness did not help quell any misunderstanding or hostile attitudes on the part of others.  Nor did it encourage the conversation to continue.

Even now as I replay some of the conversation in my head I find it difficult to not want to punch the guy in the nose.  Not the most compassionate posture.  Yet, I felt judged, patronized, put in a catagory in which I did not think I belonged, and ignored.  Still not an excuse.  My behavior was wrong and punching the guy in the nose would be wrong.  I just want the frustration I felt and still feel to go away and I do not know how to get it gone.

I would like to say I never  intend to hurt someone with my words.  I would also like to say I always  apologize and seek reconciliation when it comes to my attention that despite my intentions I have done so.  Sadly I am a work in progress and have not reach my goals in this area.  In the mean time I wrestle with the various voices in my head–some of reprimand and others of encouragement, some pointing out my failure and others urging me to a better next time. 

I do not believe the particular conversation which inspired this post could have ended in a mutually satisfying manner.  Still, I might have walked away happier with myself had I not been as harsh and unkind as I was.  My friend Clothman has often talked to me about the it-is-better-to-be-loving-than-right learning curve he is on.  I on the other hand have often talked to him about the need to defend our principles and be willing to sacrifice for what is right.  Today I think I understand my friend a little better than I did yesterday.


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