This week I posted a brief comment on a doctor friend’s social page. It was a quick thought that, when taken out of context, came across the wrong way. He got sore and emailed me about it. I was upset because my relationship with him means a lot to me.
It was a misunderstanding. I emailed to explain what I meant and where I was going with my question. We caught up by phone. We’re good. 4 years of regular engagement and connection don’t fall apart over something like this.
If this hasn’t happened to you, it will. Because things move quickly in the stream. Short-form dialog is ripe for wild interpretation.
The more you do, the more you’ll fail. And the more you say, the greater the odds that you’ll come off the wrong way when viewed through someone else’s lens. Every communication tool has its weakness. We all need to accept and understand the shortcomings of these platforms and have simple mechanisms in place for righting the ship when it tips a bit.
In cases like this
1. Don’t be defensive. Recognize that perception trumps reality and what you intended to say always falls a far second to what it sounds like.
2. Apologize and explain yourself.
3. Then move about your business. This is a two-way street and your relationship will depend upon the other person seeing the mishap. If they can’t see it and your intent was really not maligned, then it’s someone you need not engage with.
There are lots of excuses for avoiding public dialog. But for me the opportunities of connection have always outweighed the risk of being misunderstood.
If you like this you might be interested in Rhode Island Doctors: Don’t be Misunderstood.