Friday, May 18, 2007

So many issues, so little clarity!

I like having things in my life pretty clear. Needless to say, that's not particularly easy to arrange. One of my bugaboos is having to voice an opinion off the cuff about some issue that is important to someone else but not to me. I know I don't have to have an opinion about it, but out of respect for the person who has asked me for it, I often feel like I have to offer something.

Recently an acquaintance cc-ed me on an email of complaint and inquiry about a situation he was involved in which he felt was unfair. He invited all his recipients to weigh in on the topic he'd broached, and I, against my own wishes and yet knowing that (because of my own struggles with the issue) I had something to say, I wrote him a response. He didn't agree with my response and let me know it (politely); I re-responded to clarify my points; he re-re-responded with a polite end to the conversation in which he reiterated his disagreement. Okay, no harm done except possibly to my ego.

And the question that always comes up for me is--no, wait, there's more than one: why do I do this to myself? and when is it appropriate to weigh in, in the way he had invited?

I felt sure of my position yet unsure of my right to voice it. When he disagreed, I continued to feel sure of my position but more unsure that I had been appropriate in voicing it. When he re-disagreed (are you following me?), we gave up on the conversation.

One reason for my weighing in was that I began to receive emails from other recipients; these emails seemed to be taking sides in a situation that none of us knew first-hand, which felt dangerous and divisive to me, considering an institution's governance was being questioned. Triangulation is not a pretty thing to watch developing.

So, long story short, I said my piece, both to him and to the other recipients. Now, dead silence from everyone! I have no idea whether I did a good thing, a bad thing, or a useless thing! I guess time will tell.

NOTE: This situation does NOT involve a church or local organization; it is a situation in my private life.


Ms. Theologian said...

I have no answer for you.

I do find that people intentionally seek out my advice as Ms. Theologian with work problems and then intentionally ignore it and often do the opposite. Now maybe it was bad advice. Maybe I misread the situation. But, like you, I was asked to weigh in. It's hard to know when to offer an opinion.

Also, I find that computer-mediated discussions seem harder for me to "read" emotionally so I'm less sure what is really going on (though you could identify triangulation).

Lizard Eater said...

This reminds me of something my father used to say ... still says, when the occasion warrants:

"Why did you ask my opinion if you didn't want it?"

ms. kitty said...

I am always amazed by the people who say "I didn't feel heard", because it's so clear that "feeling heard" means "getting my own way".

This fellow asked for input but didn't take it seriously, as far as I can see. He just wanted someone to agree with him.

Lizard Eater said...

Ms. Kitty, you are preachin' to the choir, here. I'm dealing with something similar, and probably with less grace. I'll be interested to hear more, if there is more, in this issue.

Hmm. I think I'm going to have include "I want to feel heard" in my UU drinking game ...

Week of snark is almost over. Must make hay while the sun shines.

ms. kitty said...

Lizard Eater, m'dear, I love the drinking game you have invented on The Journey. Would that I could still drink more than one glass of wine/beer/whatever and stay vertical. Alas, those days are behind me and probably to the relief of my liver. But carry on!

Chalicechick said...

Isn't the horizontal part the fun part anyway?


ms. kitty said...

It depends on whether it involves vomiting or..., CC.