28 September 2007

101 Ways to Offend

One of my core abilities seems to be that of offending people. I don't do it on purpose. It's just part of my sometimes blatantly honest communication style. I try to be open and honest about my feelings with people. Sometimes I feel bad for offending people, other times I don't.

One sure-fire way to offend someone is to judge something about them and then let them know. Of course, if they ask you if you have judged something about them, why are they surprised when you say yes?

Everything we do all day long is based on judgement. I see what other people do, I listen to what they say, and I witness the results. Based on the results, I then make a decision as to whether or not I will make those same choices or say those same things in my life. If the outcome for them was not ideal, then I judge and put that on the list of things to avoid. If the outcome was super-awesome, I judge and put that on the list of things to emulate.

Do I judge well? Sometimes. Do I judge poorly? Sometimes. They key item that I am getting at is you are making judgements of people's actions in order to help you evaluate what your own actions should be. Does this mean that if I judge someones actions as poor that I therefore think they are a bad person? No. In the extreme case of a serial killer, I would say yes, but most of the time I think that judging actions does not automatically flow into judgement of the person himself. Unfortunately it seems that most people think you can't separate judgement of actions from judgement of person.

To me, judgement of person is God's job. I'll judge whether or not I want to emulate your actions, but the judgement of you as a person is not my prerogative. I don't know everything about you. There are always extenuating circumstances that lead up to people making the decisions they do. Most of the time we don't know and understand what all of those elements are, therefore we are not qualified to judge the person.

The tricky part is once you've determined you don't approve of someones actions, how do you keep yourself from becoming judgemental of the person? Is it possible to have no respect for the decisions in a person's life, but still have respect for that person? It's difficult, but not impossible.

I have an acquaintance who recently got divorced after several years of marriage. I didn't know the whole story behind their divorce, but I knew several key details of the marriage from his perspective. I judged those details as being things I did not want to emulate in my life, or in a marriage if there ever is one for me. In my eyes, those details were the things that lead to the divorce. I do not respect those actions at all. However, given the state that their marriage was in, I do respect the fact that they went through with the divorce. The things that seemed to lead up to the divorce put the emotional stability of each of them into such a state of disarray that divorce was actually a really good decision.

When he asked me if I looked down on him for getting divorced, my reply was with respect to the things he had been involved in that lead up to the divorce. I told him that yes, I did look down on his choices. I saw all of the bad things he was letting into his life. He drove out the Spirit and did not let that foster and aid his marriage.

Unfortunately, when I go back and read the email, I can see how it would have been misinterpreted as me saying I looked down on his decision to get divorced. So, that lead to a rather lengthy and vicious reply from him. Oops. Damn my sometimes poor ability to convey my thoughts through a written medium! So, now I have to try and redeem myself from appearing judgemental of person.

Then again, who is he to judge me?

5 comments:

Abelard Enigma said...

Wouldn't it be nice if life had a rewind button?

I remember once, a number of years ago, a coworker of mine had done something really stupid. As team leader, I sent her a rather scathing letter expressing my displeasure. Unfortunately, her email id was similar to that of one of our directors. Yup, you guessed it - I inadvertently sent the email to the director. To make matters even worse, she happened to have the same first name as this director (which is why their email ids were similar); so, it was not immediately obvious when the director read it that it wasn't intended for her - oops.

I'm very careful in what I put in emails these days.

isakson said...

I just want you to know that this post was very offensive to me. JK.

No, I understand what you're saying. Its hard to judge the actions but then not become judgemental. I think its one of my biggest problems and I'm sure you've noticed. I don't try to be that way. I think I appear a lot harsher on the outside than I feel on the inside. I'm sorry if I've ever been judgemental to you. Thats not the kind of person I want to be seen as.

See you later Max.

Max Power said...

Abe,

Yeah, a rewind button would be nice. Although, I wonder if I would use it, and then still do things the same way anyway.



Isakson,

It is hard to judge the actions and not become judgemental. I think on the inside I feel that I am not judgemental of this person. I actually feel very sorry for him and the state his life is in right now. But, I guess when you are pointing out people's flaws to them, they are apt to see it as judging them as a person. I know that I easily take offense at things people say to me. Holy crap, there's another post in and of itself - how much I suck for taking everything so personally. :)

SSA said...

People have a nasty tendency to judge others by their actions and themselves by their intentions.

Max Power said...

SSA,

Care to expound a little on that? I'm not sure I know exactly what you are getting at.