Apparently, I offended a neighbor last week. I was working on a volunteer project and I was looking for help. In true "action oriented" style, I left a succinct and probably directive message on her answering machine. It seems that the kind, concerned side of me didn't get through on the message and she was miffed.
Now I've got to do something about it and I would really rather not put myself in an uncomfortable situation. However, to get past this, I've got to put myself out there and into that uncomfortable situation. It has been eating away at me for days. When should I go talk to her? Should I call first? What if I get her at a bad time? Am I going to make things worse? Can I just avoid her until we move in two months? (Not actual option - that would just kill me!)
You can't get through life with perfect communication all the time, and I think that military life makes miscommunication even more likely. You're thrown into a new world every couple of years, you're working on multiple crazy projects with people you've never met, and you're balancing a fairly complicated home life. Under the best of circumstances, this is a recipe for interpersonal challenges. Throw in a deployment, or a family problem, or some poor interpersonal skills (mea culpa), and the possibilities for misunderstanding multiply faster than Easter bunnies.
Even more frustrating, it seems that several mutual acquaintances knew that I'd offended her, but didn't tell me directly. I didn't pick up on their cryptic comments, and it was several days before a friend explained the situation to me. What a lot of energy wasted on miscommunication.
Wish me luck - I'm off to call on the neighbor. And next time I offend you, please just let me know!