As a writer whose writing style and approach are to blog entries and other postings is similar that of people like Taylor Swift, I am used to writing in such ways as express my own thoughts (and occasionally, though less commonly) feelings, from my own perspective. As a writer I am used to knowing what I mean and seeking people to come to me in case there is ambiguity or concern. Being aware that sometimes the words I express may come off a little strong and are not generally meant as insults, I am often disappointed at how rarely people come to seek clarification when they feel that I am writing about them.
I’m generally of the opinion that when people think that they are being written about, they are probably right, but they may not be fully aware of exactly what I mean. It is always strange for the shoe to be on the other foot, though, since I write about others in public far more often than I see myself written about. So, being who I am, I try to respond the way I would want other people to respond to me, by seeking clarity about the extent to which a given message is targeted at me, even if it is an entirely sensible message phrased very openly and directly. In one sense, I find the expression of a clear and honest and open message to be highly admirable and worthy of the greatest respect, as it is a mature and responsible answer to a difficult situation.
I suppose that is what is the most important element here. Communication is a complicated business. We have to look at two elements in a message, our feelings about the messenger and our feelings and understanding of the message. In cases where we respect the messenger, we can focus our attention on trying to parse a message, which is of vital importance when there are many intended audiences to a given message. Fortunately, I suppose, this is a problem I have to deal with often. Often there are several different people or groups of people that one is writing to, and each of them may be targeted by a different aspect of the message, much of which may not apply to any of the audiences in particular, but which are all part of one coherent message with one generally consistent tone.
To do this task well requires a great deal of maturity. In communication there is always a delicate balance between being true to one’s own thoughts and feelings and being thoughtful and respectful of others. I struggle with this balance often, setting appropriate boundaries for others and respecting the boundaries of others, seeking to avoid causing or taking unnecessary offense. When I see others engaged in the same struggle, especially when I know that they too find these matters to be equally as difficult, I tend to feel greatly sympathetic. After all, I know what it is like to be on the other side of the issue, and on all sides of communication interetation is a challenging issue. We can all read words and actions out of context, presume what we want to believe, and run with it. To be committed to respectful and honorable and open conversation is a challenge, but one that is worth it, because it allows words and actions over time to set a proper context. In the meantime, let us all do our part to respect the open communications of others and to listen carefully to the message, no matter how uncomfortable it may be personally. After all, that is what I expect of others, and sometimes one has to take a dose of one’s own medicine.