Grabbing My Attention!
When I was a kid we had a simple but profound way to deal with mistakes; “Do Over!” If only life were so easy.
I want a “Do Over!” I wrote a blog, Careful With My Words, complaining about all the spammers who regularly attack the blog. I was becoming so frustrated and bothered that I decided to take the Uncle Noach approach and ask, “What is God trying to teach me?” I tried to find something good in all the spam. Well, I found it, and now I want a “Do Over” from that blog of complaint.
Practically ever spam begins with words of praise: “I find much 2 lurn frum yur writeengs.” “Yu r grait thinker!” “I was profoundly moved by your insightful words and have decided to religiously follow all your writings. Try Viagra!” “I have shared your essay with all my friends and they are now devoted followers. You can buy all your prescription drugs online.” Of course, there are the many spams with Cyrillic, Chinese and Korean letters, but I am certain that they are equally effusive with their words of praise.
I now love reading the spam. I love the praise. I have no problem pressing “spam,” but their generous words dilute my frustration.
Today I received a different sort of spam: “I thought long and hard about your insight but find I cannot possibly agree. You can find vacations online at …” Can you believe that I actually hesitated before pressing the spam icon? The spammer caught my attention. I even reread the original essay to see if I still agreed with what I wrote!
Praise is a great attention grabber. A respectful disagreement works as well if not better.
Joseph’s brothers perceived that their father was dead, and they said, “Perhaps Joseph will nurse hatred against us and then he will surely repay us all the evil that we did him.” (Genesis 50:15) The brothers catch Joseph’s attention by paying him a magnificent compliment: “He will nurse his hatred against us,” implies that they believed that Joseph did not harbor any hatred against them while Jacob was alive. They acknowledge that Joseph was sincere when he assured them that he only focused on the fact that “The Lord sent me here to feed you.”
Although they did not articulate this, it came through in their words. “Your father gave orders before his death, saying, ‘Thus shall you say to Joseph, ‘O please forgive the spiteful deed of your brothers and their sin for they have done you evil.’ So, now, please forgive the spiteful deed of the servants of your father’s Lord.’ “
Pure genius! “Your father,” is an acknowledgment that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. They caught Joseph’s attention with their opening word.
Jacob ordered them to ask forgiveness, but they added, ‘the servants of your father’s Lord.” They are repeating Joseph’s idea that it was the Lord, Who manipulated all the events.
They included acknowledgements of Joseph’s ideas in their request for forgiveness. That really caught his attention.
It is probably even more difficult to grab the attention of someone from whom you must ask forgiveness than it is for a spammer to catch mine. (I’m a sucker for praise and a good argument.) Joseph’s brothers grabbed his attention in a most magnificent manner; their quest for forgiveness began with an acknowledgement of who he was, and what Joseph believed. They couldn’t request a “Do Over” but they could grab Joseph’s attention and repair very old wounds.
So, I’ll use the same strategy: I acknowledge your words of praise, even appreciate them. I’m sorry that I have to put you in the spam file, but thanks anyways.” (Delete)
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