05 Dec

Don’t write back in anger (I heard you say…)

A few months back, I was given some great advice: if you’re writing an angry email to someone, take the very last line and write the email again, using that as your first line.

This makes sense. When you write an angry email (or a text, or a letter…. do people still write those?) you’re raging when you first put your hands to the keys – you want to get all of the points down that have been bothering you. You want to vent spleen. You, quite possibly, want to piss off the intended recipient.
By the time you get to the last line, that anger has dissipated somewhat, and – having let out all of your anger – you’re thinking in a more rational manner.
This is the perfect time to look at what you’ve just written, consider whether it might just be a little bit harsh (or cause more trouble than it’s worth), and start again.

What reminded me of the whole ‘take the last line and write it again’ idea, was this comment, in the Evening Standard (larger image when clicked) :


I knew, immediately, that the comment was written by quite a militant organisation, before I looked underneath to see that it came from a member of PETA.
Not that the poor treatment of chickens (or any animal) isn’t a bad thing, but this rant is completely out of kilter with what was simply a childish comment by the MP, Penny Mordaunt. Essentially, Harriet Barclay has ‘gone off on one’.
This is best highlighted by the completely implausible suggestion that Penny Mordaunt should suddenly go completely vegan – changing her whole lifestyle and diet for one comment … it’s just not going to happen.

And this is the problem with writing in anger – it makes you say things that, unfortunately, sound a bit ridiculous.
Asking Penny Mordaunt to issue an apology or make a donation to an animal welfare charity makes sense. Asking her to go vegan forever sounds a bit silly.

So, by all means get angry, and type out that anger… but wait for that anger to dissipate, then write again. The results (and the response) will be much better.

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