How To Own Your Words

Some thoughts on manners and human behaviour

We go online and meet people. Yes, behind the avatar/headshot a real person lives, with emotions and reactions to whatever we type. Often people forget that and live in their own head, taking only into account their intentions, forgetting how the written word can be attributed with another meaning. And we perceive a monster instead of the real person.

Mad woman A joke can become an insult, a smile cannot be seen and ‘LOL’ is often disregarded, because we all know a typed LOL doesn’t necessarily mean there is actually playful laughter. And thus people give the words the meaning which lies within themselves.
Someone who is prone to expecting an insult will sooner be offended by a joke than the next person who is more inclined to take things on a lighter note. And so an online row is born. One which could have been avoided if the parties would have only taken the time to make a real connection instead of a fleeting ‘passing in the night’ and ask for the other party’s intention.Why not take the simple, but more confronting route and send a message to the offending person and ask for explanation? Why do people take a defensive position, and go into offence creating even more friction.

Sharpening claws Solving a problem, however difficult and even more so online, is always better than fuelling one by adding words to the out of control situation without taking a step back and calming down first.
But even better would be to think before typing and pressing ‘submit’ or ‘send’. Remember the world can’t see your facial expression, your body language and hear the tone of your words. Be extra careful with your words and realise how one simple word can lead to an online feud, because sorry is often a word too difficult to type. Elton John sang it and he seems to be right. Sorry seems to be the hardest word, but it is a most powerful one.

puppy dog eyes Even if you know you haven’t offended someone, because you never meant to and you know your typed words didn’t have that meaning doesn’t mean that other person cannot be offended by them.
So why not just type an apology and explain you didn’t mean to hurt or offend? Why not own your words and their unintended outcome? It will not hurt you, in the end it will earn you the respect of your peers. Showing your embarrassment has a positive function. If you mean it, and yes your words will show their true meaning if you take the time to use the right ones, you will gain the trust and be judged more positive in future than when you do not show the least bit of understanding and embarrassment for the out of hand situation.
Remember being sorry for the outcome of something bad you did, even if you didn’t intend it as a bad thing, doesn’t mean you are a bad person. You did something you shouldn’t have, own it, learn from it and don’t make the same mistake again. In the end you and your social surrounding, be it online or in the ‘real’ world will life a much smoother life.

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6 thoughts on “How To Own Your Words

  1. Lucy, really good article. I have found that many things can be misconstrued in an electronic message. I’ve seen it happen many times, as tweets and Facebook messages fly back and forth between two people, each arguing their point of view, while the whole world looks on with raised eyebrows. I do believe that people should own what they say. And when a person apologizes to me for something they shouldn’t have said, I find myself respecting them even more.

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