I am sorry for being rude and for hurting your feelings

I've cried a river over rude commentsTHIS week an email I sent made someone feel so badly they wanted to quit their job. The words I typed before I hit ‘send’ made them feel so badly about themselves, about their work that they wanted to stop doing it. When I think about that, even as I write this, the idea of it is so upsetting, so deeply saddening… well, it makes me cry.

I am ashamed that I have done this to someone else. And I am sad that I could have caused such damage, such destruction. It is awful to have that knowledge, that understanding that you could hurt someone like that. It curls up inside the pit of your stomach, like a dark, heavy, cold stone.

Back in my early days of blogging, the first time I wrote a post that caused a storm and drew some strongly worded comments I cried. A lot. I told my husband, amid a snowdrift of snotty, tear-soaked tissues that I was no good at writing, at blogging, and I was going to quit. He said then what he always says when this happens (which, in five years, is quite a few times): “Honey, you need to harden up and not take these things so personally.” He’s right and over the five years I’ve gotten better at handling criticism. Sometimes I still cry, although I’m proud to say that with my most recent brush with trolls, including the very nasty queen of the trolls, I did not shed a single tear. I have learned to not give the trolls the power to make me cry.

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At the newspaper emails would fly thick and fast with tersely worded, barely concealed nastiness. It was just how it was done. Words were weapons. I’m certain none of those people cried over the words they sent each other. And after a while you become calloused, used to it. Sensitivity atrophies and manners wither away.

But away from the blogging and away from the newspaper, in the real world, words don’t bounce off harmlessly. They hurt people’s feelings and they make them feel bad, so bad about themselves that they want to quit their job. A job they love, a job they try really hard at and a job they’ve wanted to do their entire lives.

I’m sorry. I’m deeply, sincerely, truly sorry.

I’ve learned a lesson. True, it’s a lesson most people learn before they hit primary school, but I’m realising that I’m a late bloomer in some areas.

I’ve also realised that some people haven’t had to build up the tough outer shell that I have, cleverly disguised by my I-dont-give-a-shit-what-you-think attitude. And I’ve learned some people are polite and well-mannered and haven’t yet learned that other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter that much. And that they should not give nasty trolls any power over them.

And wouldn’t it be nice if the trolls of the world would consider other people’s feelings for a change and be a bit more sensitive. This troll is going to work a lot harder at exactly that.

2 comments for “I am sorry for being rude and for hurting your feelings

  1. Nicholas Moore
    June 28, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Newspaper offices are blunt, impolite places.

    Deadline pressure and the need for 101% accuracy, 101% of the time meant that niceties were largely dispensed with a LONG time ago.

    When we were starting, nobody spared our feelings. We were constantly criticised, and threatened, publicly and in private, until we got it right.

    News gathering and reporting, done properly, is very hard work. Human nature, however, is sometimes to take the easy option. That can’t happen at newspapers, or the truth doesn’t come out, or falsehoods do come out.

    And so no slackness is tolerated. At least, it wasn’t when we were trained.

    The overarching priority in a newsroom is the news, not your colleagues’ sensitivities. The understanding was, if that was not your priority too, you should seek a career elsewhere.

    Journalists must also deal firmly with people trying to hide the truth, or spread the lie.

    And so it’s easy to forget that “civilians” require a higher level of civility.

  2. June 30, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Well done on the realisation & the apology. I’m sure you have done it personally too. I hope it has helped the other person somewhat.
    I had a similar experience recently when I snapped at a Real Estate Agent who came to the door. His face just dropped. I apologised of course & we had a long chat exchanging points of view. He said the fact that I apologised made his day. Would hate to have his job – tough. Still wish they wouldn’t send me unsolicited mail though ;).

I would love it if you would tap out a few words here!