I do not deal well with mean people. I simply can not understand why people have to be self righteous and mean to others. Maybe I’m naive and just expect normal people to be civil. What is the point, or even the benefit, to spewing hateful words onto someone else?
Is this encouraging words?
Well, yes, if you bear with me. Here’s the background:
Recently I had an experience where I asked a forum moderator permission to post a request for feedback on a web design issue on the forum. Now, mind you, I wasn’t posting the message, I was asking permission to do so and I closed my request with the statement: “please tell me if this is okay to post as I want to be respectful of your policies.” Their response was to immediately block me from the forum and send back a nasty email about self promotion and “how could I ask for input when I had never bothered to post anything on the forum” and on and on.
I was unbelievably upset. I had spent the last four months contributing to the forum without ever even putting my web URL in my signature, specifically because I was not interested in promoting myself in any way. I was truly there to help people who were starting their own online business. Contributing to forums like that is a great way to help others while learning what types of questions new comers have. I didn’t need them to come to my site for anything.
I was going out of my way to be respectful and the moderators response was, I felt anyway, harsh and unreasonable.
Now, there were two possible avenues I could take in response. Well, three actually. I could choose not to respond at all. I considered that possibility, but didn’t want to leave them with the impression I was guilty as charged and was running away to hide.
Number two option would be to blast them back, defend myself, point out all the posts I had contributed to, remind them I wasn’t posting the message, I was just asking permission. My first instinctual response was: Obviously they were just some kind of little dictator running their own kingdom and they resented anyone else who tried to advise their members. This moderator didn’t allow any messages through that she did not personally check first and most of what was allowed to be posted was questions. She provided most of the answers.
Where would that lead?
If there is one thing I know, it’s this: what goes around comes around. Call it Karma, the golden rule, or “do to others what you would have them do to you” Matthew 7:12. Whatever you call it, the principle is the same. If you put out anger and hate, you’ll get it back.
So, I choose the third option. First, though, I waited until I was more rational. And this is an important point. Don’t respond in haste. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of walking away from the nasty email, sometimes the person is right in your face or at the next cubicle. But, whenever possible, do not respond while you are emotional. You will regret it.
I wanted to sleep with a clear conscience that night and I knew that would not happen if I sent back a hate filled, angry email of my own. I really don’t care what that moderator thinks of me. (I’m over 40, being secure in who you are and not worrying about others mistaken impressions of you is a luxury you get to have as you get older But I do care about having to live with my conscience.
I chose to send back an apology for breaking her rules, thanking her for taking the time to get back to me and wishing her best of luck in her future endeavors.
There was one more email from the moderator, she continued to press her point about following her rules, accused me of joining the group with “other intentions” and so forth. But, and here’s the heart of the matter, she also mentioned a difficult medical problem in her family. She didn’t go into detail, it was only one sentence, but it was enough for me to go Ah HA! That explains the unforgiving, harshness of her first email.
The truth is, most people aren’t mean and spiteful as a normal thing. When someone responds in a way like that moderator did, seemingly all out of proportion for the event, if we take that moment to pause, if we don’t immediately respond with the same anger and make the situation worse, if we use a rational mind instead, we will realize something else must be going on behind the scenes.
This is a lesson I am forever sharing with my children. When they are on the receiving end of petty and hurtful words from their friends, I try to point out where that friend might be having challenges in their own life. People can only give out what is inside of them.
So, what’s inside of you?
What are you giving out to people? Mean and harsh words? Or do you respond with patience and understanding? Maybe you’ve been treated badly, maybe you have tremendous struggles in some area. It is hard to speak words of kindness to others when you don’t have any inside of you to give.
It is possible to have peace inside, it is possible, even in the most frustrating and painful times, to have words of kindness and even love for others. But to to do that, you have to know not only who you are, but whose you are.
Here is my gift to you for today:
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