I have to write this somewhere … and I don’t care if anyone stumbles on it to read it.
A confession – I’m an extroverted-introvert, love people but avoid people in settings that I am not sure about. I’ve never been good at social graces and etiquettes. I’d like to think that I’m friendly to a fault and also like to think that most people I meet are equally so. I very rarely pause to think how my actions/words might be misconstrued because I’m being friendly.
A few weeks back, I was in a small group workshop. It was a 5 day event and we all got to know each other decently after spending atleast 4hrs/day working, talking, brainstorming, etc. End of workshop and the usual “don’t be a stranger”, social media exchanges, etc happen.
Now, I’ve met plenty of people through various events – still good friends with people I met at Augusta 70.3, a bit distant for now but can hopefully pick up with my Ragnar Ladies, I even went back to run a marathon with someone I met at the hotel in NYC and we kept in touch after; I’m even friends with people that I met a work orientation 8 years ago and none of us are in Atlanta – all thanks to social media.
Long way to make the point – social media has helped me stay in touch and be connected to people who would other forget each other.
Anyway this past week, I got a emails from a couple of people at the workshop with enquiries of my wellbeing and best wishes and a query. I had truly expected the connection to be through Instagram/Facebook/LinkedIn and not Email (Email and Text still fall under what I’d classify as “personal” rather than social media). I felt that warm glow because I truly cared about all the people and it just felt good to be thought about. I replied back pretty immediately to the email with a query because that is what I do. Didn’t hear anything back about a follow up to my longish email. Meh, .. happens. Not everyone is as enthusiastic about writing as I am.
Today, I got an email from another person that had ‘Thank you’ in the body along with a uber friendly note. Umm… what had I done that elicited an email AND a thank you? Then I remembered – I had followed up with the organizers for each of the people in the workshop (like I’d promised I would; I just got to it super late after I got back from my bike trip.)
That – has had the most sobering effect on my already down in the dumps day.
The email notes I’d gotten earlier wasn’t friendly correspondence at all. It was a meticulous thank you note for something I had done.
Until now, I had reacted as if someone had really wanted to keep in touch with me and that they had truly cared to ask how I was doing. Whereas the reality was that people were only writing out of courtsey but they had omited to mention what I had done to impact them. Hence my misunderstanding of a business-like note for friendly correspondance.
I would much much much rather not have received any sort of communication at all, and if a thank you had to be mentioned, I’d rather have it openly mentioned like the 3rd email, not disguised under words of prententious enquiry that didn’t mean anything.
As I often say, I can’t control what others do, I can only control how I act/react. And I must say, I am not proud of the way I’m reacting. I’m feeling rather let down that I didn’t recognize the intent of emails. I’m truly mortified that I actually took time to reply without realizing it was a formal note and a reply wasn’t expected. I don’t regret that I replied back but I am absolutely mortified.
In a week or two, or a month or few, I’ll be able to look back and shrug and move along. I hope. But for now, I’m so embarrassed and mortified, especially thinking back to the long reply that I took time to type out thinking that it was a genuine enquiry. Thank God that the same social media that lets people be in touch also dictates that you don’t always have to be in touch.