Slow to anger, quick to listen
Normally, I don't hear from anyone after a column is published.
So I was surprised when my Jan. 28 column about school closing generated a few angry messages from readers.
I say "angry" because either those readers got angry after reading my column or they thought I was angry about the school closing.
I can't speak for other people why they felt the way they did. But I want to say a few words to clear any possible misunderstanding.
First of all, I was not angry when the school was closed. I was not angry when I wrote that column. It was not my intention to express any anger at anyone or the school district.
If I was not clear with my intention or in my writing, if I used the wrong words and sounded angry, or if I was disrespectful or ungrateful and therefore offended anyone, I would like to apologize here.
Yes, I was surprised by the school closing.
Yes, I was in the minority camp of parents that did not like school closing.
Yes, I can get angry like everyone else.
But to get angry with school closing? Definitely no!
School closing is not something that can affect me so much emotionally to get me angry.
As I stated in the Jan. 28 column, I knew the decision to close school was "based on the best interests of the students and employees."
I also said: "I understand different factors are taken into consideration. I admit I only see a few trees and not the forest or the whole picture.
I also understand that other parents may have different opinions about school closing. It is OK to have different points of view. We are all different and think differently."
I was just sharing my own thoughts and personal preferences.
I didn't say my point of view is better than others, or my way is a better way.
I welcome others to show me the forest or the whole picture, to share their point of view, but sending me angry comments was a little overboard to me.
For example, I was told that I was incapable of following the local news on my own.
I didn't say I couldn't follow the local news and therefore needed someone to tell me about severe weather conditions in advance.
I am a librarian with two masters degrees and my ability to find news and information is at least about average, if not above average.
During winter time, my kids are often driven to school instead of taking the bus, when it is cold.
Sometimes I wonder whether people really take the time to read what is said and whether they really understand what is said before making comments and judgments.
Personally, I like to ask questions and say things straight from my mind. I am not afraid of looking and being dumb. I like constructive criticism.
I always tell my colleagues to correct me if I do something wrong or to let me know if something could be done differently and better.
Last week, I had a meeting with an employee from a different office who expressed dissatisfaction with a monthly publication our office puts together. It was the first time I heard a negative comment about our publication.
So, I initiated the meeting to find out how we could improve our publication and do a better job.
People are usually very polite and say nice things to make others feel good. Or they don't say anything even if they don't like something. They keep to themselves for the fear of offending others.
Positive comments are nice, but they don't offer much help for improvement.
On the other hand, negative comments, if offered in a constructive way, provide food for thought and opportunities for improvement. That's why I was very grateful for that person's negative and honest comments.
I think it is important to provide a safe environment for people to express their opinions, thoughts, and feelings.
Oftentimes, people just want to feel heard and validated.
People can disagree with each other, but share your opinions in a calm manner and don't get angry because others have different opinions.
We need to be more open to different ideas and different points of view.
Sometimes there is no right or wrong. What is right or wrong in your mind depends on your family and cultural backgrounds, personal experiences and value systems.
We need to be more tolerant. Don't be easily offended by someone who has a different point of view.
Sometimes people are so passionate about their own ideas and beliefs, they can't tolerate others who are different.
We need to be good listeners.
Sometimes we jump into conclusions and judgment too fast and too early, before others can finish what they have to say or before we really understand what has been said.
We should try to find something good in what others say. Even if 99 percent of what is said is nonsense, there is still one percent left that might be good and could help us improve, to do a better job or to be a better person.
The thought that kept coming to my mind these last two weeks is the Bible verse, "slow to anger, quick to listen."
This is what I remind myself and also want to tell my readers who got angry with my columns or might get angry with my future columns.