the eleventy billionth time email has screwed up my communication

Though we are communication educators, Pace and I are not infallible.

Yesterday, we had a major miscommunication with my brother and mom (hi, Mom! Hi, Tony!) We have major life plans in the works with the four (five, including the Boy) of us – we’re buying a duplex and moving into each half to be near each other. Right now, they live in Dallas and we live in Austin, putting four hours of travel one way between us. Needless to say, this makes communication about such a major undertaking a bit tricky.

We’ve had lots of back and forth. Pace and I are incredibly excited, and our excitement is contagious and tends to burn through all the things Mom and Tony have to deal with on their end. No one’s doing anything wrong, but one minute it’s “right now, let’s move!”, and the next it’s “wait, wait, not right now!”. A lot of miscommunications about the urgency and possibility of the move have happened.

All this culminated yesterday. Tony wrote me an email after he and Mom had a long discussion. The email, from my perspective, was a long list of reasons why they were backing out and not moving to Austin in the foreseeable future. They listed all the things that were blocking the move from happening, clearly stating the reasons behind each block.

I cried a lot, and Pace and I spent several hours talking about what we needed for ourselves, and started tentatively making alternate plans. I wrote a response email, saying that we understood that while they want to move to Austin, it’s not a good thing or even a possible thing for them. I reassured them that I wasn’t mad, that I understood their position, and that we would go forward with what we need to do and hopefully at some point in the future we could make a move together happen.

An hour or so later, Tony replied, utterly baffled. He and Mom had absolutely not been backing out, and were super-confused as to why we were.

I called him in tears. We’d both completely miscommunicated and misunderstood each other. They intended to list the things they were thinking about, the things they needed to work through or deal with before they move, and we’d perceived it as backing out, and our response made them think we were backing out. The whole thing got muddied and confusing to all of us.

Since this is the eleventy billionth time this has happened, you’d think I would’ve learned by now that communicating via email on major things is never a good idea. Oi. It’s far more likely to result in hurt feelings and miscommunicating than any other medium, and when so many people are involved, the phone isn’t much better.

We decided to put all conversations regarding the move on hold for a couple of days. Tomorrow, we will drive up to Dallas to spend a couple of days talking in person, which is far less likely to result in such a major misunderstanding.

Feel clear and confident about your direction in life!


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