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Archive for April, 2011

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Know your audience

Friday, April 8th, 2011

I have been accused of being many things in my life, but rarely has being insensitive one of them. For those who know me well they will realize that I am actually very sensitive. Now don’t start rolling your eyes and saying ‘yeah right’ – hear me out. I am not talking about the ‘burst into tear because someone called me a botch’ type of sensitive – I mean the ‘knowing how my words can hurt others and trying to be cognizant of that fact.’ OK NOW you can roll your eyes.

It is true though – no matter what you may believe. I will speak my mind and give you the blunt honest truth as I see it but even though I won’t pull a punch, and will always give an honest opinion when asked – I usually keep my mouth shut unless I am that – asked. No matter how direct I can be, I have never and never want to intentionally hurt someone emotionally, that is never productive. I know that many times I have, and that often the truth does hurt, but it is never intended that way and my comments are never malicious. I try my damnedest to be aware of my audience. Let me explain with a few examples from my life in the past few months of people around me that have been completely unaware of their audience and have caused hurt and pain to others. Of course no one meant to do it, it was not intentional nor malicious, it just happened because they were caught up in themselves and completely unaware of how their comments and actions were being perceived by the people around them. They didn’t do anything wrong by saying what they did, they just did it around the wrong people or person.

A group of overweight women who are struggling with weight loss were discussing some of the foods they wish they could eat when one very tiny woman with no issues started commenting about the treats she enjoys frequently even going so far to say how she is lucky she can eat whatever she wants without gaining a pound. Was there anything wrong with what she said? No, she was obviously just wanting to participate in the conversation and no one wants to feel excluded, unfortunately it was just the wrong place, with the wrong audience and came across as very insensitive, is she? I don’t know but I doubt it, she was just unaware, never having been in their position, she just didn’t realize how hurtful her comments were – to her it was just conversation, to them it was a slap in the face.

Another lady, after learning about a failed fertility treatment a friend had just gone through, chose that precise moment to tell her that she just discovered that she was pregnant, unplanned and unexpected and even went so far as to tell her barren listener that she was considering adoption because she wasn’t planning on or wanting to have more children. Was she being malicious and trying to break her friend’s heart? probably not, she was just so caught up in her own moment, looking to make herself feel better by confiding in someone, to unburden her own soul and receive comfort, she had no clue as to how devastating her words were. What she did was not wrong, we all need a shoulder, we all need a friend and we all need comfort – who she turned to was her downfall, she did not know her audience and lacked the proper judgement or compassion to put her own needs aside until she could find a more appropriate audience.

A woman was crying the blues over a few drinks one night – it started out as a girl’s night out and turned into a sad affair. She was discussing her unhappy marriage – how everything that could be wrong with her husband, was wrong and how she wished she was in a position to leave him and just start over on her own. A very common occurrence and one we have probably witnessed or even taken part in ourselves, there is nothing wrong with venting to a friend and crying on their shoulder. The only issue here was that the friend she was crying to had lost her husband only three months earlier in a sudden fatal accident and probably would have traded all of her problems for her friend’s in a heartbeat. Was her friend mean and uncaring? Not really, she was just clueless, she was thinking more of herself than of her audience. The friendship has since ended.

These examples are what I mean about being ‘sensitive’ and knowing your audience. I am known to bitch and complain all of the time about a variety of things that offend me, but I try very hard to be aware of my audience. I don’t complain about the last 5 pounds around my friend who needs to lose 100. I don’t complain about the cost to clean my fur jacket to a friend who can barely afford rent and I don’t complain about my mother to a friend who recently lost hers… you get my point. Have I done it unawares? Of course I have, we can’t always understand what is happening in other people’s lives, what they are suffering and what they have endured but once you know, when you are aware, please conduct yourself accordingly. You don’t have to be false, you just have to know your audience and be sensitive to their needs and feelings as well as your own.

 

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