The Power of a Reply
I am sometimes shocked by the anger and venom that appears in emails that I receive. My website makes me VERY accessible to folks (click the mailbox and you'll see!), but the anonymity of the 'net seems to transform some people. It's amazing to see what the power of a thoughtful reply will do to some people!
It was a blurb about my latest book, The Power of Respect that seemed to set off a bunch of folks. Mind you, the book came out last Fall, on the heels of Kanye's diss of Taylor Swift, Serena Williams blessing out a linesman at the Open, and then Rep. Jim Wilson hollering "You lie!" during the President's address to a joint session of Congress. I had used those 'news items' as recent examples of disrespect in society. BottomLine Personal, a terrific publication I've enjoyed for years did the bok feature. Well -- the response was heated. Here's one email I got:
I just read your article regarding "respect" and the examples
you used as an example of disrespect. Your commentary about Jim
Wilson shouting at the President is a poor one. Mr Obama was first
disrespecting the American people as he was lying from the podium.
Mr Wilson's comment was one of courage. He knew that there would be
repercussions from the rabid left wing socializers in the country.
Why don't you get over it, get a life and do what you are best
suited for, ie, looking pretty and dumb on television.
I did have respect for you as I thought you were a Christian
young lady. Your apparent support for Mr Obama, an outspoken
anti-Christian and anti-American, is not a very Christian act.
If you can't act Christian please don't claim to be one. Just be
a performer and stay out of politics.
God Bless America and save us from the likes of you!
Well, I must confess, it stopped me cold. In one brief message, my religious faith, intelligence, political leanings, and patriotism were all under attack. "At least he thinks I'm pretty," I thought.
I considered just hitting the delete button, but generally I dont -- and for some reason I responded back to the writer, a man, who to his credit signed his name.
Here's my reply:
Thanks for the email Mr XXXX (I don't want to embarrass him!)
I was appalled at that Supreme Court slight. The article you read was taken from my book Power of Respect whcih was publsihed prior to that incident. I was stunned
by the President's remarks toward the court - which were incorrect
and thought it hugely inappropriate -- and -- disrespectful.
It seems no political party has the 'corner' on respect. Disrespect
is found everywhere. My sense is people won't change behavior cause
its the 'right' thing to do - but they might if they saw 'what's in
it for them'. That's my message in my book -- and I hope its one you
agree with, although I think many would find some of the comments
and tone of your note to me a bit disrespectful.
(No, I don't think you've got me figured out politically! :). And
yes, I am very much a child in Christ - despite your belief
Thanks loads for writing! All the best, and yes indeed, God Bless
I was thrilled by the response by reply elicited.
"Thank you so much for your reply. This act of respect on your part restored my belief in you and my respect for you. Please accept my most humble of apologies."
The writer went on to apologize for his words and tone, he talked about his concerns for our country, his personal history, etc -- and we have now gone on to have a robust, respectful, and rewarding conversation via email about our mutual wish that the tenor of our times was different.
I am so glad I hit send rather than delete. I have made the online acquaintance of a man who shares the desire of so many that America reconnect itself to the values, ethics, and language that was once the norm here.
Lesson learned? We all can learn a lot simply by listening -- and being a bit less quick to judge. I'd write more, but I've got an email to reply to from my new friend!