CAMDEN Something really nice happened to me last week, and I think it could be a lesson for everyone in all walks of life and in all types of relationships.
I received a phone call at work from a gentleman who wanted to know more about our new series, “Cold Case Files.” He is already a subscriber and wanted to know if he would automatically have access to the articles since he is a subscriber.
I assured him that he would, and explained that the series is new, but that we would continue to run them as long as the public shows interest, etc.
He was very positive about it all, and he even shared with me that he knew the man who is the victim in the case we are running during this initial series. That piqued my interest, so the reporter in me perked up and began to ask questions. The caller and I had a very nice conversation.
He even gave me the name of another person that might be of interest to readers because the person’s murder is also a cold case.
I thanked him profusely - for the tip and the positive words - and told him that I’d like to stay in touch, so I asked for his name and telephone number.
He didn’t tell me, and there was a pause.
We started chatting again, and I eventually got back around to asking his name again.
After another pause, the caller told me his name.
Then I paused for a moment.
The caller was someone with whom I’d had bad experiences through my work email. I never met him. I had not heard his voice until last week. All I knew was that he was the person who sent me - what I felt to be - nit-picky, acerbic emails; some of which could be perceived as... um... not blatantly racist, but definitely insensitive.
(Really, folks, it was such that I had blocked his email address.)
I was shocked!
We has such a wonderful conversation last week that I could not match up the person with whom I was talking with the same person who sent those emails.
Anyway, we talked through some things.
We never raised voices. I listened to the reasons why he sent the emails and why he would continue to point out to the newspaper any mistakes - perceived or otherwise, any tips for improvement, etc.
But he said one very important thing that helped remind me that we can all “just get along.”
He said that he would continue to send us emails, but would do so from now on in a much nicer way.
I love that.
At the end of the conversation, I thanked him for talking with me and working through our ‘stuff.’ And we have been in contact several times since then.
All it took was a real, honest, respectful conversation for us to now know where we stand with each other, agree to disagree on occasion, and still show respect to one another.
I know for sure that this can apply to any situation, any relationship, anywhere with anyone: Have a respectful dialogue, forget past slights, and agree to move forward.
Sometimes hurt feelings and the response of anger are caused by things that are perceived slights; things that - if talked through with the other party - may turn out to be just a misunderstanding.
We have to remember to try talk things through.
No name-calling necessary.
No bluster on one hand, then fake sincerity on the other.
No referring to another’s race or religion or place of origin to try and demean the ‘opponent.’
No... well... just ‘not being nice.’
(And pledging to oneself that you will not revisit the past and stir up old, hurt feelings is essential. Easier said than done though, right?)
Some people use the cop-out that they are not worried about ‘being politically correct.’
It’s not about being P.C.
It’s about - simply put - being nice; not being rude, hurtful and spiteful.
As the older folks used to say ‘back in the day’: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
It’s really that simple.
And if it’s not, maybe I’m too simple.