A few evenings ago I received a slightly unfortunately phrased email, which I didn’t reply to as I suspected that the writer didn’t quite mean to say what she said. The next day I had an apology. She didn’t mean to say that she thought I (and a few others) were trying to build an exclusive group etc, it’s others who think that.
Didn’t quite cut the mustard as apologies go, really. It raised more questions than it answered and now I’m wondering who on earth doesn’t think I’m perfect just as I am.
So I left it another day, as I was a bit tired and it was approaching midnight, and I wrote back the next morning and explained rather more fully the nature of this proposed group and that in fact the wish is not to keep people out but to get more in – those who don’t join in already because the more formal committee can put people off contributing. I assured her that no apology was needed, I hadn’t taken offence, da-di-da, you know – which is true; frankly I don’t care. I can be offended, but you have to put a degree of effort into it.
Anyway, then I got another long email of explanation, and oh Lord, it’s fine, really. I’m just glad it isn’t my bother.
Emailing is just too easy, you know. I said much the same thing when I was exchanging emails with that lady who got worked up because I decided not to join her Latin class – you will dash off an emailed note saying things you would not say if you had typed and printed or hand-written it. Emailing doesn’t feel like writing a letter, but it is – and to make matters worse, its recipient can snap back and exacerbate the whole thing. You can get a bit carried away with the cleverness of your prose, or your feelings of irritation or indignation can make you give a snappy answer, because emailing is an odd sort of communication, between writing and speaking. If you say something, your tone of voice or the reaction of the person you’re speaking to colours and can smooth the message you’re giving.
It’s not the first time I’ve had such an experience from that particular person, and if she does it to me she will have to others. She explains and tries to put things right afterwards, but her initial reaction is often inappropriately strong and I wish she could realise that and not press the send button until she’s thought about it a bit.