Friday, September 16, 2016

How to Tone it Up?

The goal of this blog is to create a different tone at the Shabbat table. Please share.

ToneDid you ever find that planning for the High Holidays can be stressful?

As if I needed a reminder, this morning I had a very trying exchange with someone with whom I'm coordinating a certain detail of Rosh Hashana programming.

It started when I asked about some women I had heard were uncomfortable with certain details, and had asked why they were uncomfortable, perhaps something could be changed to make them more comfortable. In my haste, I had typed "some woman" and he interpreted that as dismissive rather than sympathetic.

Even after I clarified the error in writing, and even after I spoke with him in person to try to communicate with a smile, I then received a curt message that began:

"I have been handling this aspect of the program since 1994, and honestly have never had this much trouble anyone. You might want to ask yourself whether getting what you want on the Days of Awe is more important than causing this much aggravation."


What I had done to cause any aggravation, let alone "this much"....? No clue.

First question for your table: What would you have advised me to do next?

Sure enough, I apologized for causing aggravation and explained (I think) that my concern wasn't for myself rather for the comfort of other people.

But this time, before I sent it, I showed it to a friend and asked him his opinion about my tone, and to confirm that my reply sounded friendly (and not aggravating).

With his approval, I sent it off, hoping for the best.

A few minutes later I received a short reply that said two things:

1. "No one else has ever been worried about this issue, so why should you?
2. "As I have spent more time on this topic than all other topics combined, I would appreciate it if we can just end the communication at this point."

My father used to say, "Beware of email, it is almost impossible to convey tone!"

Question #2 for your table - Was my father right? If so, whose responsibility is it, the writer to get the tone "right" or the reader not to jump to conclusions?

Shabbat Shalom

PS: Some Rosh Hashana links....

1. Rosh Hashana countdown timer:
2. For my Rosh Hashana prep worksheet (appropriate for any age), reply to this email and ask!
3. Our four favorite honey dishes which make great gifts: Here's the link.

PPS - Just one hidden link this week - can you find it?

Like this email? How about putting your gelt where your gab is: Like it, tweet it, or just forward it.

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