Friday, February 4, 2011

Don't Break The Silence

I was having a behind the scenes (e-mail) conversation the other day with a very good friend of mine and she happened to make an observation that I was becoming a little guarded with a few of my e-mails. And being the good friend that I am, I naturally agreed with her. I didn't say it to be nice or score brownie points, I said it because I am genuinely like that in my personal correspondence with my friends.

I would like to use my answer that I gave to her as an explanation as to why I'm so guarded with my personal correspondence with my friends.

"I'm always worried about offending my you know, my circle of friends is predominately female and while sometimes its hard to get a read on what their frame of mind is at a given moment, it's doubly hard when the only way you can communicate is via the written word.

When you're face to face, it's easy to read body language and facial expressions, and it's kind of easy to figure out the verbal nuances and clues that people give off when they speak.

With the written word, its very hard to read body language, facial language or even verbal nuances or inflection when a person writes.

I can't tell you the amount of times that I've had to back peddle or apologize or even go into a lengthy explanation over something that I've written (remember the innocuous comment I made about your hair last year?) that was grossly misinterpreted as something else.

I won't say that all my friends are mercurial by nature, but I've learned over the past several years that sometimes what I say can often be the death of me, which is why I'm a little nuanced and guarded when I talk to you, or to anyone else for that matter, via the e-mail.

I know that you've reiterated on numerous occasions that it's very hard to offend you, but just the same, I always want to err on the side of caution when I write, which is why I sometimes sound like a politician in my e-mails."

The reasoning as to why I decided to write about such a strange topic probably has more to do with being curious about why I do what I do than anything else. I like thinking out loud and while I was having this conversation, I got to thinking about the fact that even though I'm having a casual conversation with a good friend, I'm still sort of editing myself as I type. I'm either prefacing what I say with an apology, or giving an unnecessary explanation as to why I said what I said or I'm holding back what I'm saying just enough for the person that I'm talking to ask if something is wrong.

So tell me, do you have the same problem or do the same thing that I do when you have conversations with friends, especially when you're doing it via the e-mail or texting? Do you still edit/censor your more salacious thoughts and words, even though you've gotten reassurances from the other party that they won't be offended by whatever it is that you want to say? Or do you just go ahead and say whatever it is that you want to say and damn the consequences?


  1. i have some friends that i know i cannot offend, but most of the time in the written word, text or email, i err on the side of caution.

    the world needs a sarcasm font, a just kidding font, and an imtotally serious font!

    Bruce Johnson JADIP
    Evil Twin
    stupid stuff I see and hear
    The Dreamodeling Guy
    The Guy Book
    The Guy Book

  2. I don't think I ever email anything that might be considered salacious. I'm so boring.

    And I had texting taken off my phone because it annoys me that I have to pay for texts - especially when they are salacious. :) (I was getting unwelcome "come hither" texts from a neighbor man.)

  3. hmmm, I wouldn't say damn the consequences, but people I usually friend either know, or have been told by me, that if you don't want honesty don't ask.

    I will say that now, I do try to temper what I say with some semblance of tact, but I'm not always the best with that either.

  4. Most of the time I say whatever I want, with good friends - but everyone (myself included) has their sensitive spots, so I try to avoid saying things that may hurt them. Like a friend I want to shake and say, "Why don't you finish your education? You're smart enough!"

    And you are a very good friend. Thank you :)

  5. Honestly, I guess I'm really boring because there haven't been many occasions when I've wanted to say something that I thought might be inappropriate. If there is any doubt in my mind, however, I do edit/censor myself. Better safe than sorry, and it's true, e-mails are deadly grounds for misunderstandings.

  6. Bruce: I agree, the world does need a sarcasm/i'm kidding/i'm serious font for writing.

    A few of my friends are like that to a certain degree, so I try to respect that particular part of them the best I can.

    Lynn: Sometimes boring can be good. :D

    I can tolerate most stuff thrown my way, and the stuff that I can't, I usually will respond in a way that tells the person that they've hit a particularly sensitive spot.

    For the most part though, I do try to treat people the same way I want to be treated.

    Carla: Sounds like a good policy to have, in that you let them know upfront how you are.

    Tact isn't one of my strong points either, which is why at work I often have my supervisor go over certain e-mails so that they don't come back to bite me in the ass, so to speak.

    R: Thanks, and you are too. :D

    I always try to be considerate to whatever sensitivity a friend might have to a particular issue. Most of the time it works, and there is that rare occasion where I simply engage mouth before putting brain in gear.

    S.R: I agree that e-mail is the ultimate land mine, because once you press that "send" button on a particularly irate piece of e-mail, there is almost no easy way of digging yourself out of that hole.

  7. I think it is worse with texting. I tell my friends they can text me but if they want a conversation, they need to call me b/c I don't text back.

  8. Bearman: I do the bulk of my talking either face to face (co-workers) or e-mail (with friends). I rarely text and I find that I have problems now talking on the telephone.

    When I do talk on the telephone (mostly for business), I find that I'm censoring myself even further than I do when I e-mail.

    Kind of a "damned if I do, damned if I don't" philosophy.

    But I do see your point. Talking on the phone or talking face to face is usually preferable to texting or e-mail. Less chance of screwing up something.

  9. depends on my mood. I always censor on some level...but sometimes I let fly with certain things knowing the friend will either A) get proper interpretation or B) talk to me about it

  10. I've noticed that joking and humor don't do well in emails. I wrote some things in emails to my brother that he took way too seriously. In my work I have a coworker who takes almost everything wrong and reacts poorly. I tried to put distance between us to avoid scenes and she took that so bad she complained to our supervisor. Sometimes you just can't win so I've decided to just say it the way I choose to and let others decide how they feel about it.

  11. Darth: Same here, at least for work. There are some co-workers who I can e-mail extremely nasty comments and know that they won't take it the wrong way. Still, I do censor myself at work, if only because of the filters that my work e-mail has to begin with.

    Snow: I can sympathize with having co-workers take everything the wrong way, no matter how try to fix the situation. When you have that kind of grief, the best you can do is to make sure that your supervisor is clued in on what's going on, so that you can't get any more grief that you shouldn't be getting to begin with.

  12. I definitely censor myself in emails. I know that I have kind of an off the wall sense of humor, and I try to always be aware that it just might not come across in print.

  13. Mama Z: Yeah, I can see where that could be a problem. I have a very skewered outlook on life as well, and I have enough problems with people understanding my humor live and in living color, so I often have to censor myself in my e-mails quite a bit.

  14. So I posted what I thought was a really funny story here, and it didn't show...maybe I was not meant to share!

  15. I just hate emails full stop. I find it very hard to communicate to anyone that way. I never know whether to make them short or long, funny or sensible, so in the end I avoid making them at all!

  16. r: I'm sorry, Blogger must have given you one of those 503 errors where it sucks everything up for eats and doesn't give it back.

    Feel free to share it next time you're in the neighborhood.

    Joe: I can understand that. Unfortunately for me, its a necessary part of my work life. And because its been such an integral part of my work life (about 15 years) I find that I'm actually more comfortable talking to people via the e-mail (don't text) than I am talking on the phone or face to face.

  17. Hi G, fortunately my coworker mouths off at our supervisor too. Nothing like watching people hang themselves with their own rope.

    Re your comment on my blog; I was enjoying the beauty of all the snow but now that we're getting above 0 temps it's going to get muddy and messy. Ugg.

    Winter is a great time for shooting B&W. I experiment with pure b&w and sepia. When I used film I had red and yellow filters for B&W shooting. They make white really intense and contrasts dark and light really well.

    What do you prefer, film or digital? What camera do you use for your Shooting Suburbia? I like some of the features of digital but I really miss film a lot.

  18. Snow: Nothing like watching a hated co-worker hanging themselves with their own actions and words.

    As for film, I use disposable film. I'm not much of a fanatic for digital and I'm more of the speed of simply point and click.

    I do enjoy black and white for the pure intense visual that it gives.

    Sometimes color can be a bit overwhelming for a particular subject manner, but b&w is a beautiful thing within itself.

    I would welcome muddy and messy. Beats icy and cold any day of the week.

  19. OK here it is:

    Speaking of putting feet in mouth, there are moments where my little social editor just doesn't work and I really should censor myself.

    What I posted about here was a time when I was volunteering as an ESL teacher. One class, I had a co-teacher who was right out of college, going into grad school to be a professional ESL teacher.

    He showed up and said, "I brought my bag of tricks!" And I blurted out, "What, from Spartacus?" (a local porn/sex toy shop.)

    We were teaching class in a church.

    AND he had no idea what I was talking about.

    Luckily that was the last class for the term.

  20. R: As they say, timing is everything. :D

    Some day, I should really tell you about a few of the more inappropriate/tasteless comments I've made in public where there were at least five other witnesses to the fiasco.

  21. Excellent! Please do :) Then I'll feel better.

    I think I may write a post about some of mine...


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