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I Sound Like an Idiot, Even When I Don’t Mean To…

idiotjester


Has it happened to you?

I only recall one saying that my father ever said, and it tends to come up more often in my life, than not. “Son, don’t let your alligator mouth over-ride your mosquito butt…” I tend to realize that I’ve said something inappropriate after it’s already out there. I’ve recently received a phone call from someone that I’ve respected from afar for awhile and have never intended any nefarious word or thought. However, unintentionally I have offended them.

It’s not them, it’s you!

In my less mature days I would simply say this was the other person’s problem, but now I try to look at all sides. In this case it had to do with some things I had written. When 70% of communication is body language, it only makes sense that in this fast paced, often negative world of blogging, we tend to lose sight of the fact that our opinions may come across despicable and not of our intended purpose. We’re opinionated – all of us. It’s a difficult balance to write or comment in a reasonable length that isn’t overly burdensome to the reader, yet truly reflect your intent.

Plea for kindness…

I’ve written often about the need for civility in the blogosphere. Not always is it possible to write an article without picking a side. Even the mainstream media can’t seem to deliver news without telling you what to think. However, it was a good lesson for me to remember that when I write comments or posts, I need to be more cognizant of what the reader may be “hearing” and not necessarily what I was saying.

Can I be neutral?

Being neutral and still commenting on a post or writing one of my own is near to impossible. I think that most people do read blogs to garner information, but some also want to know what you think when you’re writing. I’ve tried to just deliver information, but the mere fact that I am writing about it means that it sparked some emotion or interest. Being direct maybe a better option. I find that the times I get misunderstood, is when I am trying to point out both sides of an issue. (not that the issue that spawned this post was a neutral statement, I was just being an idiot and didn’t see how others might understand my comments)

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My point?

I don’t really have a main point here, other than to ask that those who read my stuff feel free to e-mail me and ask what the heck I meant if you feel offended. (phone call might be better) If I intended to offend you… I won’t hesitate to get a cheesy grin and tell you to get over it; but typically I didn’t intend to offend.

For the writers out there, make double sure, before you hit submit that your message is exactly what everyone else would understand it to be and that it’s consistent with other comments that you’ve made in the past.

We could all do a bit better at communicating with others a keeping our target audience in mind.

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Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is TheAgentTrainer.com.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. monika

    March 30, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I usually agonize before I hit submit….probably far more than I should.

  2. Missy Caulk

    March 30, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Matthew, sometimes is is difficult when you can’t see the person and hear the tones. If I say something that might be taken wrong, I try to say LOL or explain.

  3. John Lauber

    March 30, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    So true Matt. It’s been that way with email too. You always need to re-read something, especially if it’s a “heat of the moment” or emotional type of response. There never was a great way to rescind an email. It’s true of comments and posts too.

  4. Matthew Rathbun

    March 30, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Monika – I’m with you. I spend too much time reading, but I do so for grammar and content and not enough for effect.

    Missy – Yeah, I wasn’t really a big “smiley face” person at first, but I found that 🙂 can make it all better.

    John – yep, can’t rescind an e-mail…. occasionally I can modify a bad post. Never been able to recant a comment….

  5. Bill Lublin

    March 30, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Matthew- as long as you are aware, you minimize the impact of a hasty post – and the smilies are a great cure – there is such a narrow psychological bandwidth to written communication like this and emails, that the greater sensitivty you show in your post is our best friend- And making sure we talk about what we “know” and not what we “think” when we make absolue statements – but I am sure that a 🙂 beats a :-p everytime!

  6. Matthew Rathbun

    March 30, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    @Bill – you’re quickly becoming my fav commentor. Always great to get your insight! Thanks for hanging out here!

  7. Judy Orr

    March 31, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I’ve also noticed that it’s obvious that some people that read posts or e-mails simply don’t read them fully or correctly. Then they form a quick opinion on their erroneous interpretation of the post or e-mail and it’s obvious by their response. I see this a lot on blog post comments.

    I’ll read a reply and go back and re-read the post and think, “What was that guy reading?”

    I sent a guy (referred by a friend) an e-mail explaining nicely how I couldn’t find anything in his price range and though it was doubtful anything would come up I’ll keep searching (an automated search). He replied back that he was sorry he was wasting my time and maybe he should find someone else who would be more willing to help him. He was pissed! And I was very nice, even though there was nothing in his price range in the area he wanted and there wouldn’t be unless it was a tear-down. I had to explain this to my friend so she wouldn’t think I was being a jerk.

  8. Colorado Home Loan

    March 31, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    I wish people would learn the skill of not being easily offended. It’s a waste of energy to spend time being offended. I don’t think I’ve ever read a blog post that offended me. It’s just real estate stuff, after all.

  9. Lane Bailey

    April 3, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    As one that usually finds lines not to be crossed by looking behind me… I understand. It is tough in an online world to get across exactly what we mean, rather than the worst case scenario.

    Don’t beat yourself up too much.

  10. Sue

    April 18, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Its hard to know how you will come across and accurately be represented. Many times people can take things the wrong way as they cannot see our facial or any other expressions or mannerisms. Thats probably why the “expression” symbols were implemented to help that along a little. 🙂

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