I offended someone recently. If you've known me for a very long time, you'll know that I normally don't care too much about offending people. That I think people are too sensitive in general; that people misunderstand me and for the most part I feel like that's not really my problem.
And that's how I used to feel. Not to be confused with a desire to hurt people's feelings - I just don't have a lot of compassion for people who read more into a situation than is intended. I find it annoying and useless when people do that, and I often lose interest in interacting with people who choose to be upset over assumptions they make.
That said, I don't actually enjoy hurting others, despite the frequency with which is happens. Over the last few years I have been learning a lot about how to be more sensitive and loving; about how to be kind even when people are overly sensitive. About how to care about others and to be more open to them and their feelings. It's hard work, and being sensitive is confusing to me. Squishy feelings don't have a good place to settle in my psyche and I often find myself wanting to get rid of them.
In the course of my work, I offended one of my customers. She didn't do what she was supposed to, and when I gave her instructions on how to do it better next time, I offended her. I got a nasty email today about it and I could tell from the tone of the message that not only did I offend this person professionally, I had also hurt her feelings.
I feel crushed. I'm so frustrated with her and this whole situation. I am angry that she is bringing personal feelings into something that is not at all personal. I am offended that she is twisting my words into something I didn't say at all, and I am irritated that I have to spend on-the-clock time soothing someone's bruised emotions.
But I'm also crushed. I hurt someone's feelings, and I'm really new to caring about that. Someone is feeling disrespected, offended, and disregarded because of words I used. In further conversation, I learned that this woman is being mistreated by her colleagues and isn't receiving the professional support she needs to do her job correctly and she is getting blamed for things that are not her fault. And then I walk all over those feelings. Even though it wasn't intentional on my part, I added to a situation that feels impossible for her. I feel like I might cry.
There's a happy ending though. I apologised, used better words to explain myself, and could offer honest regret for my actions. Even better, I was able to offer a solution that resolved her problem.
I've grown and changed so much, but I still routinely fail at interacting nicely with other humans. I'll be thinking about this the next time I take the sacrament.