We had an incident happen recently that had the potential to spiral into something nasty.
Early this week I woke up to a very long and angry text involving my son and then a string of texts requiring me to “explain myself” from one of my neighbours who lives in our lane, they are relatively new, so apart from the odd smile and wave we haven’t really met them.
I know enough that I didn’t want to try to clear it up over text so I tried to call, but the person wouldn’t take my call as they were at work. I left a message hoping that my tone would show that I was more than happy to figure out where the misunderstanding occurred and that I would be more than happy to pop over to sort it out in person. I then went into a two back-to-back meetings.
I came out of the meetings only to find a barrage of texts which quickly escalated to a “we have called the police”. I was rattled, angry and astounded that it had escalated so quickly, and some wide assumptions had been made about us as a family. I decided not to try to continue the conversation via text and tried to push it aside and continue on with my day, but I felt out of sorts the whole day and had a knot in my stomach every time I thought about it.
The part that was the hardest was having someone think something about us that wasn’t true, I knew there had to be a perfectly good explanation for what seemed so out of character. That feeling of being misunderstood and misrepresented is horrible. It made me angry, especially because it involved my child, my momma bear kept threatening to burst out.
On the way home, I decided to reach out to them even though they only wanted to talk to me through the police. I reached out via text and asked if I could pop down to chat. They refused but were willing to chat over the phone.
Before I made the call, I pushed down the momma bear and mustered all the compassion I could, I imagined her face and imagining that she was having the worst day ever and I slowed my speech and spoke as calmly and kindly as I could without being patronising. Within minutes, her aggressive tone softened, and her pace matched mine and we were able together to figure out what might have happened. It turned out that some scary events in the neighbourhood had led to an over-vigilant over-reaction to a late night rubbish bag drop. By the end of the call, we had a little giggle and the relationship was stable.
It was a great lesson again that being able to recognise what was going on in me and manage that and then being able to assume the best of others has the power to de-escalate a situation. It shocked me how quickly it escalated not because I was replying to her text but because I didn’t.
That conversation could have been totally different and the outcome would also be very different living with neighbours we would have to drive or walk past while they glare at us. I am glad we can go back to smiling and waving.
Have you heard of the term ‘dying on the hill’? It's derived from classical military conflict, in which holding the high ground conveyed a strong advantage. The modern slang is implying the question "Is this argument/fight worth sacrificing everything for?”
In today’s world, it is so easy to get all wound up when we are texting or typing to each other. It can be triggering and make us angry and sometimes rightly so, but to what end? What is the end result and is it worth it?
Stop and have a think about that….. And remember everyone is going through stuff, we have just been through three of the most uncertain years, some people are tired and stressed and not at their best. Have some grace, your reaction and response can turn the situation around.
Have you ever had a situation turned around because you made the adjustment?