I'm in the midst of a massive editing job at the moment. I know, the Board turned over and I'm supposed to be done. Well not so fast--some jobs linger and I have a few projects to finish up and tie off with a pretty bow.
Part of this project includes reviewing someone else's work, who has left notes in the text explaining and commenting on various points. And I am continually astounded and aghast at the tone of the remarks. They are not just rude; they are snide, mean-spirited, almost shockingly disrespectful of the person's colleagues. Every time I come upon one that leaves me even more horrified than the one before, I ask myself if I have ever been so tone-deaf and cavalier about not only hurting someone else's feelings or deeply offending them, but ruining my own reputation with my peers.
Ironically, perhaps, I have complained to a few people about the quality of this work that I am dealing with--and now I wonder, searching my soul, if what I am condemning so harshly in this person is something I'm doing myself. I really, truly hope not. However angry and upset I am about the quality of the work I see, I never want to be the kind of careless, self-centered, cruel person I see coming through these comments.
I can be thoughtless, and quick-tempered. Being straightforward can turn into being too honest, into being harsh.
Someone I deeply respect told me, repeatedly, that a leopard doesn't change its spots. But I think we can, we must, have the capacity to improve ourselves. As I go through this job, regularly deleting the more inflammatory and outrageous remarks, I feel like I'm branding each one in my memory. Do not say this, do not convey this attitude. And I wonder, again, if I'm doing just that again without even realizing it or thinking about it.
So often I've said things I instantly regret, written things I wish I hadn't. I hope it's not a spot. I hope I can learn to bite my tongue, or have more confidence in my ability to be polite if not always kind. Because what I see here I absolutely do not want to be.