Three Years Later

change communication connection life lessons problem solving relationships Jun 09, 2021

Did this ever happen to you? Last week I received a returned envelope through snail mail that was dated April 11, 2018. I was shocked-over 3 years ago. And when I looked at the name on the envelope, I had no idea who the person was, but it was my handwriting. 

Upon opening, I read the note I had written: Thank you for delivering our paper, there was a check and my signature. (Yes, I realize how old-fashioned it is to get a hard copy newspaper, but I love to do the daily crossword.)

It was disappointing to me that Willie never got her tip. She didn’t know that I appreciated her and wanted to recognize her. I had the assumption that my letter had made a difference and that it also contributed to the quality of my delivery service. Sorry, Willie (who had an undeliverable address!)

At first, I was shocked at how long the letter had taken to be returned-3 years-but after I got over that, it got me thinking about how often we “send out” messages and we never know if, when, or how they are received. I had thought one thing when something else actually happened!

Then I thought of another experience I had last year with a childhood friend who lived across the country and with whom I had corresponded occasionally over the years. I had been holding onto a memory of something I was ashamed about and uncomfortable with. One day I got the courage to email and ask if we could talk on the phone-not email for this! 

During our conversation she let me know she had no memory of what I had been thinking about for over 20 years! It was so rewarding to check this out, as I had been letting this be a barrier between us when she did not even know about it!

How often is our message missed or never understood by another?

Although neither of these communications was life-changing, they are a reminder of how there are often disconnects between what we send out and what we perceive the other person receives. In today’s world, we are sending and receiving so much information it is easy to miss cues and make incorrect assumptions.

Here are a few ideas that I think are helpful:

  • Don’t assume our message was delivered the way we intended!
  • If we care about the importance of the message, check to make sure we both understood what was said or sent.
  • Don’t ever assume we know what the other is thinking (no matter how well we know them.)
  • Follow up if something is meaningful when we don’t hear back-don’t wait 3 years or 20 years!
  • Use the most appropriate method to share our message based on how important the communication (obviously snail mail is not the most reliable.)

I’d love to hear if you ever had a letter that was returned after 3 years or more! It was kind of fun, but a little frightening also. I wonder what else is either in the ether or in a postal box that I thought was delivered! I am sending out energy to attract all missing mail back to me. Let’s see what else shows up!

Peace and Joy, Sheran

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