Write It… And Toss It

Saw this Calvin and Hobbes and it reminded me of some GREAT advice my dad once gave me… but first, enjoy the cartoon:

Ever gotten so upset about something you sat down and HACKED OUT A LETTER? I have!

There were many a letter I wrote that after showing to my dad for his input, he quietly read and then said,

“It’s a great letter! Well written! Excellent points! Well organized and presented! Perfect arguments.

Now throw it out.

Throw it out?! How could he compliment it so highly, and then tell me to throw my masterpiece out?

He was helping me not make a bad situation worse since my letter would only pour gasoline on the fire.

So was my letter a waste of time? No! My dad explained that “hot letters” are still good to write because they help you organize your thoughts… process your emotions and sort out the details of what happened.

Then, after you toss your flaming masterpiece,  you’ll be better prepared to write the more diplomatic letter that will get results.

OR, better yet, pick up the phone if you can’t meet in person.

E-mail and text messages have kinda ruined the pace of healthy communication as people now tend to type and hit “send” before reflecting on the impact of their words. I know of many who have lost their job over an email they should have slept on.

But what do you do if you are the one receiving the “flaming letter?”

Sometimes I have given it back and graciously said, “I’m going to pretend you didn’t give this to me and give you a chance to rethink or reword this now that you’ve had some time to process your thoughts and emotions.” You may actually get a thank you.

Other times, I’ll ask, “Would you like to take this back before we discuss it?” They will often say, “Please.”

I have learned to ignore people’s first response in many situations and extend grace when I know it was driven by emotion. This may be unfair, but it’s only unfair to me, which I can live with. It kinda goes along with “doing unto others…”

All this to say, in this day of rapid communication, don’t be so hasty to hit that SEND button on your phone… there are times you might want to take Hobbes’ advice and sleep on it. You might handle it better in the morning.


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