Writing in Anger

In yesterday’s post, I suggested you not write in anger.  A reader made the comment that she has written angry letters, which felt good.  I have done the same thing:  written some real zingers that made me feel so much better.  But the trick is not to send them.

As much as you might want to show how clever you, how superior you are, how right your position is—sleep on those angry letters. Read them again the next day.  Chances are great you will decide not to send them; otherwise, you could easily demean yourself.

Certainly it is acceptable to express displeasure in a letter or e-mail.  But use language that is dispassionate and does not put the other person on the defensive.  This may be a good time to use the passive voice: instead of saying, “You did not do X,” instead you can write,”X was not done.”  That way you are not pointing the finger of blame.

Some phrases you might find helpful:  I have the impression that, an issue in dispute, we seem unable to come to terms, we have a difference of opinion, we have a complicated situation, I strongly disagree/oppose, we may need to break off discussion.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Writing in Anger

  1. I still make the mistake of sending letters that I wrote in an upset frame of mind, and I always feel bad about it afterwards. Thankfully I don’t do it very often. I generally use angry letters as a way to get out my feelings on paper so I don’t dwell on them. It works pretty well for calming me down, but like you said, the trick is not to send them 🙂

    • Hi, Michelle—

      I know how tempting it is to send that angry letter—and I have come close a couple of times. But I somehow had the strength to sleep on them, and by the next day saw that I would have embarrassed myself. The letters would have made no difference to the situations, perhaps even making them worse.

      So keep writing those angry letters, let the steam off, and then keep holding on to them.

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