My internet connection was down. I called the network operator several times to see it fixed. The last time I called, I could feel my tone of voice getting firmer and higher. I put down the phone feeling strong emotions rising in my body. Along with it, came a bit of remorse and all sorts of what-ifs.
It was not her fault, the call center attendant. Even if she had something to do with it, I don’t think my response was appropriate. I did not have the right to speak as I did. No, thank God, I did not say anything harsh. I did not shout either. Still, I could have done better, or rather, kinder.
What’s more, I didn’t know her condition. Who knows how my words might affect her. She might have had a terrible day, in the office or at home. My words were just making things worse for her. Or she might have had the day of her life. My words might have tainted what could have been a perfect day. Or they might not have any affect at all. I don’t know.
Of course, this e-poster popped up on my Facebook page. Yes, I heard. Thanks.
We (read: I) often don’t realize or even consider the condition of people we interact with. The colleagues we work with at the office. The spouse or children coming home from work or school. Or even strangers. The staff we meet at the gas station or cash counter. The by-passers on the street.
We just jump and say what we want to say, do what we do–ask for favors, lash out, throw a joke or two, without even thinking twice, without taking a second to see how they are and how they respond to our words or actions.
This becomes even more challenging when we don’t meet face to face. I send emails or text to people, asking them for favors, expecting that they would be okay with it, expecting that they would immediately follow this script in my head. Do I even know how they are? Are they happy, sad, or angry? Has one of their loved ones just passed away? Do they even feel like talking (to me)? I don’t know.
That works the other way around. When people say hi to me, buzz me, how are they? Is there something more they wish to share with me or is it a mere hello? These days, IMO, with our hectic schedule and so many people around us, a hello is never just a hello. We carefully choose people we personally say hello to, for a reason that sometimes we are too proud to say.
I asked a friend once, how do you see people, how do you respond to people? His advice was: See the best in them. See their true potentials as human being. Give them your best, kindest, most respectful response.
I have several personal stories in my head; all relating to the times when I did something or asked something to someone without considering their stories, oblivious of their conditions, only to realize later on how insensitive and ignorant I have been.
I have some stories but they are just too personal to write. The incident with the network service center attendant would hopefully suffice to describe what I want to convey.
How little I know about the states of the people around me. How insensitive I can be of their (read: your) state and situation, or even intention. How often my attitude does not reflect the response that they (read:you) deserve, lacking of love, kindness, wisdom and due respect.
And to those people, and to you, I am so sorry.