So. In my other life, I have a kid who is a a girl scout. I sent someone an email last weekend, asking if maybe we could use a phone tree for communication because I missed an email about a cancelled meeting.
"Maybe next time we have to cancel a meeting, we could use a phone tree, because I don't check my emails on the weekend."
I got six paragraphs back about how she (the person on the other end of the email, henceforth known as That Person) didn't have time for petty issues like this, and her brother-in-law is sick, and, as a business woman, I should know how important it is to check my emails.
So I wrote back, "It was just a suggestion, I wasn't trying to bust your chops". And I got back three pages about how if I wanted to be in charge, I shouldn't have quit being the leader , and I have been critical since That Person started being the leader, and she's not going to be the leader next year because she's had enough of people like me who think they could do it better, and....
At which point I should have stopped responding, because I tried to defend my position, and it got even deeper: Apparently, I made a mistake and I was trying to push the blame onto That Person, and was unwilling to admit that I should have been checking my email, and I am trying to drive a wedge between That Person and the other leader of this group...and we could both take a lesson from this exchange, specifically that I should be nicer and check my email more and not blame other people for my mistakes (no mention of what her lesson might have been).
Finally, I said, "I'm sorry for any miscommunication on my part."
And That Person said, "I accept your apology."
At which I wanted to say, "OH HELL NO YOU DON'T, NOT UNTIL I GET AN APOLOGY BACK!" But I put on my big girl pants and I didn't respond. Maybe I forwarded the exchange to a few people, to drum up support, but whatever.
THEN, on Friday afternoon, I got ANOTHER email from That Person, apologizing for snapping at me--but if I wouldn't try to blame other people for my mistakes, and if I hadn't sent her so many derogatory emails in the past, (huh? I can't seem to find the emails. I remember a difference of opinion about a cookie sale, but I don't remember it being derogatory. Or even heated), blah, blah blahblahblah, none of this would have happened.
And okay, I recognize that That Person is a little nuts. Maybe a lot nuts.
But I also recognize how incredibly difficult it can be to communicate with the typed word. I was perhaps a little terse in my first email, but I didn't want to get into a whole thing about why I didn't check my email. I just didn't. It was Sunday, I was working in the yard. No biggie. And then when I made the "didn't want to bust your chops" comment, maybe that came across as sarcastic? I don't know. I was trying to respond to That Person's message, not feelings behind it.
I'm a writer...or at least, I'm trying to be. Maybe I need to get better and using SHOUTY CAPITALS and Smiley Face Emoticons.
Anybody else have any good stories about how not to go postal on someone when you are trying to get a point across?
And for the record, Boy Scout dads are WAY easier to communicate with. Their response would have been, "Yeah, that's a good idea, you organize it", or "Screw you. Check your email."