I’m Sorry if the Real World Bothers You

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m scrolling through Facebook when I come across a post from a Public Speaking group that I follow.  In bold black and white, a woman asked for help in finding places to speak.  There wasn’t anything special about this post; it’s a common enough question, so I almost scrolled right on by… except my eye fell on the first and only comment there…

“You might want to consider properly constructing your sentences.”

“Really?” I thought to myself. “What a crappy way to respond to her.”

And I started to scroll away from the post.

I stopped.

That was crappy. The girl was asking for help, and this was the only response she got?

Dang it.

I decided to respond. 

“Sorry, the first comment you received was clearly not written with the intent to be helpful. It’s too bad that sort of rude comment is allowed here. You can start looking for places like local chamber groups, women organizations, and networking groups. You’ll find that there are lots of opportunities there. And while they’re often unpaid, they will lead you to people looking to hire speakers. Best of luck to you.”

This got the attention of the first commenter who responded with this:

My response was meant to be helpful. First impressions are vital in the public arena. Work on them or there not be a second impression. I’m sorry if the real world bothers you.”
I’m sorry if the real world bothers you. 

Oh, buddy…did that get under my skin (in the interest of keeping this post PG-13, I’ll spare you the words that ran through my mind at the time). I was hot and ready to post all of those words and few more when I reminded myself to breathe and wait for just a second. 

He’s right.  He’s right that she didn’t use correct grammar. He’s also right that first impressions matter.  Never mind that she was asking for help, not criticism…wasn’t there a better way to say that to her?

I shared this with him…

“You are right; the public arena is tough, and first impressions matter a great deal. You are also correct that her sentence structure in this particular post wasn’t perfect. I can’t help but wonder if there was a better way to help her in this particular instance? The real world is tough enough without all of us trying to knock each other down, especially on a forum designed to be helpful.”

I’d love to tell you that this opened up a dialog between the two of us.  But that would be a lie.  It went down kinda like a turd in a punch bowl.

“If I wasn’t trying to help, I would not have bothered to comment in the first place. During my 73 years I have done plenty of public speaking in the court room, the pulpit and the platform. I will giving the keynote this June to a large group of Veterans with whom I serves in Vietnam. I admire the dream of becoming a public speaker, but it is not for a person who is timid, thin skinned and unprepared. Communication is hard work. One must get ready and be self motivated to succeed. I hope she learns from our conversation. Thank you.”

I won’t lie. I wanted desperately to respond back to him, to point out his grammatical errors in this comment, to knock him down a rung. 

Except I couldn’t.  And I didn’t.  Not only because it would be doing exactly what he did to the woman who posted, but because I couldn’t get past the what he’d said before. Everything else about this interaction aside, he really hit a nerve…

The real world does bother me. 

It bothers me that a person reaches out for assistance and the first thing she gets is unsolicited criticism from someone who doesn’t know her.

It bothers me that we are so quick to judge others but are afraid to turn and look at ourselves.

It bothers me that we find it so easy to hurt one another with words, especially in written form.

It bothers me that this guy with all of his years of experience couldn’t find a nicer way to help a girl out.

It bothers me that he didn’t see things my way.

It bothers me because I know I’m sensitive and thin-skinned.

It bothers me because I know on some level, this little experience was like a mirror.  As Dr. Phil says, “What is it about you that I don’t like about me?”

It bothers me because it made me wonder, how many times have I said something that really wasn’t intended to be helpful but was really a way of pointing out someone else’s flaws to make myself feel better? 

D#*&%.  That thought hurt…

The real world bothers me. 

But I’m trying to make it better.

I’m trying to be more aware of my words and their impact on others, both written and spoken.

I’m trying to listen more and give less advice.

I’m trying to help whenever I see an opportunity.

I’m trying to see both sides of an issue, not just my own.

I’m trying to ask more questions, of myself first and then of others.

I’m trying to spread more love, more positivity, more kindness and more hope. 

You might be wondering how the woman responded who wrote the original post.  Well, she gave me many thanks and shared that she’s written a book that she’s hoping to share with the world.

I sure hope she does.

She responded to the original commenter as well. And while I can’t condone what she said or how she said it, I understand why she said what she did.

Here’s hoping that you, too, will keep spreading love, positivity, kindness and hope this coming new year.  The world needs it now, more than ever.  

Happiest of holidays to you and yours!

P.S.  Hey, if you are enjoying what you are reading here, click on the follow button to receive updates every time I post!


4 replies
  1. Annette Brown
    Annette Brown says:

    Loved reading this! It is hard knowing that so many people use their texting muscles to bring someone down. I wonder if he had been face to face in the same room with her if he would have responded differently, or even at all.
    I hope her book does well. Thanks for the great read.

  2. Ingrid Rodriguez
    Ingrid Rodriguez says:

    Alex, I love that the real world bothers you. It should, because many, many things are wrong right now. What the world needs is more empathy, kindness and self-awareness from people such as yourself. Keep up the good work!


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