Friday, January 20, 2012

Is your "caps lock" on?


Have you ever received an email or had a computer conversation with someone that consisted mainly (or completely) of bold face type written letters?

Whether it was out of anger, frustration, or plain careless intent, those words sent a powerful message, didn't they?

As a recipient on the receiving end of said message, you may have felt: tongue lashed, humiliated, irritated, indignant, or seriously angry.

But more than the actual phrasing itself, the tone is probably what ticked you off most.

The "I'm making sure you know that I'm in your face" approach is always a quick way to escalate emotions and send tempers flying.

So why do it?

Here's the thing.

Some days I wake up on the wrong side of, not just my bed, but seemingly the whole wide world.

The littlest pet peeve, harmless glance, whiny tone, accidental mess, or event that does not go my way, can send me right over the edge of my already teetering sanity.

(And while PMS does affect 100% of women, using that as an excuse for moody behavior 100% of the time, is worse than the popular headache every night complaint. ) :)

So after establishing early on that my emotions are especially chaotic that day, I try remembering to ask for an extra helping of grace. Because if I don't, there's more likely than not an unseen explosive just waiting to be triggered by "my itching to fight" mindset.

Several times I've forced, literally forced, myself to put down the phone, erase an email or text, and possibly step into the other room to cool down before saying something I'll wish I hadn't. Because, in the heat of the moment, I can almost taste how good it'll feel to voice what I want; but afterwards I know regret will nag me into heavy remorse.

Hard as it is, stopping to pray in the midst of this often makes me change my planned upon course of action. I may realize I need to wait for a better time, or perhaps, not even address the issue at all. If I still feel a certain nagging in my spirit after communing with God, then that unrest is probably something worth pursuing; once I've completely calmed down.

Proverbs 15:1 says "A soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger."

While this verse doesn't state what our answer itself should consists of, it clearly recommends that a soft one is key.

Because the tone we wield has the power to either accelerate or decelerate a turbulent situation.

We can either fight fire with fire, or cool things down by taking a more logical, understanding, approach. It doesn't mean we can't ever show anger, disappointment, etc. but we should check motivations and attitude first before engaging our, easily accessed, emotional side.

I've found that, with writing especially, things can easily get misconstrued in translation, so careful wording/tone go a long way toward how people may perceive us. You can still get a firm message across to someone without purposely angering, belittling, or putting them down.

At the end of the day, resisting the primal urge to turn on our "caps lock" defense mechanism might just be the most effective weapon in our arsenal...

4 comments:

Amber S. said...

Wonderful post! It really is easy to misconstrue things in writing, because you can't hear the tone of a person's voice. That verse from Proverbs is a great reminder to be careful how we respond to things.

And I really appreciate what you said about sometimes forcing yourself to step away and cooling down. Like in The Hunger Games, we're in a constant battle - and it's hard, but we should never give up, standing strong through God's strength. (Hope you don't mind my post reference - I just thought it was cool to see the connection between our posts today!)

Thanks again for this post! (And isn't it so easy to blame PMS for those super emotional days??)

~Amber

Christina B said...

Hey Amber! :)

Thanks for leaving a comment and so glad you enjoyed my post! I've seen some really sticky situations when it comes to emails, notes, etc. so I thought it might be a good subject to explore. Without being able to see/hear another's tone plus expressions face to face, it can be easy causing hurt and taking offense.

Lately, I've been working on trying to ask God what He'd have me do in a certain situation, rather than just relying on my own, flawed, instincts. It's hard in the moment, but afterwards, I feel so much better when I show self-control.

I really loved your post on The Hunger Games, and how you tied everything together so perfectly. So neat also that our own thoughts coincided as well-must be a God thing. :)

(Lol, PMS honestly does make for a "too convenient" excuse sometimes...)

Have a great weekend, Amber!

Laura Frantz said...

Christina, Such a good post and such good insights from Amber, too. Great point about not being able to hear the person's tone. I've learned to wait a while, sometimes a day or more, before responding to emails as it gives me time to rethink things, measure my response, and pray! Like you said, you feel so much better when you show self-control. Everyone wins that way and He is glorified.
Bless you both for such thought-provoking words:)

Christina B said...

Hi Laura! :)

It's funny because if I'm angry about something and I need to send an email response back to the person who brought upon those feelings, I usually write up an email full of the things I WANT to say; then once I've fully vented, hit the delete button. Or I save a few key points that may still be valid to mention, but simply re-word them.

The thing is, I honestly don't like confrontation-and usually avoid it like the plague-so when I am upset enough to actually say something, it's gotta be pretty bad. And then when you're that frustrated, it's easy getting swept up in the moment...

So I'm trying to be better about telling myself it's okay to let a person know they've caused offense, as long as it's handled tactfully. Because the other end-holding emotions in too often-isn't healthy either. :)

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