When Not To Send A Letter Or Email

Advice About Writing–And Not Writing–Letters And Emails
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

Whatyousay.com advises you never to send a letter or email when

*…you’re really, really angry
You will regret it later if you do. Oh, I know the feeling.  You’re outraged, your blood is boiling. you want to say something that strikes deep.In these situations, it is so tempting just to start writing.

Well, go ahead and write. Put your thoughts on paper. Read them out loud. But, don’t send it right away. Wait at least 24 hours, unless it’s an emergency.  If it can wait, do wait to see if you still see the situation the same way.

Abraham Lincoln wrote some pretty harsh letters that he never mailed. One of them was to Major General George Meade, who was the commanding general at Gettysburg. Lincoln was distraught when Meade didn’t follow up the Gettysburg victory by quickly and aggressively pursuing Robert E. Lee. Lee escaped with his army battered but intact, and the war lasted two more years.

Lincoln’s letter to General Meade was later found in a drawer of Lincoln’s desk, after his death–never sent.

If, after you’ve regained your composure, you you still think a message should be sent–and sometimes you should send a strong message–think of the best possible way to word your letter or email. Read or show it to a wise friend, or to your mastermind group. Then, if it feels right, send it.

Another alternative is to let your attorney send the letter or make the contact.  If it’s a serious matter, it probably should be done by a professional.  Attorneys are trained to take a detached, rational view of a situation.

*…you haven’t done your homework.
During the years that I spent teaching at large, well-known universities, I made a number of presentations at professional meetings, and published articles in refereed scholarly journals. When I did, I made it my business to read every possible relevant article or book. (Scholarly journals typically include a section in which the authors discuss the literature on the subject being discussed.)

Every scholar knows how deadly it can be for another scholar to publicly point out a critical omission. Fortunately I was fortunate never to be humiliated in that way, but I have witnessed it happen to others. It is not a pretty sight.

You may not be a scholar, but you will look foolish if you blast away in your business or personal life without getting all the relevant facts. The operative saying for this situation is “Don’t go off half-cocked.”

Sometimes it takes a lot of time to gather all the relevant facts, but that is better than the alternative. Even if your sin of omission does not bring humiliation, those who know know, and your reputation will be diminished.

*…you could communicate better on the phone or face-to-face.
Billionaire entrepreneur J.B. Fuqua–whom I interviewed for USA Today and for Time Tactics of Very Successful People–told me that he never wrote a letter if he could make a phone call.  “I think they should teach students how to use the phone in business school,” he once told me. (The business school at Duke University is named the Fuqua School of Business.)

If you do decide to make a phone call or communicate face-to-face, do what Fuqua did before he made a phone call. He wrote out a script that included the points he wished to make, the wording of his key messages, and the objective of the call–what was the outcome that he hoped to achieve.

In summary, the next time you feel the need to write a letter or email, don’t send it if you’re angry, if you haven’t done your homework, and if there’s  a better way to communicate.

Don’t get embarrassed using a spurious Lincoln quote.  Here’s a quotation book you can trust:

The Words Lincoln Lived By

“This is a book to cherish and share.”—Bill Marriott, CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

“Absolutely awesome! Inspirational and even life-changing for leaders or for general living. An in-depth exploration of Lincoln’s character, spiritual beliefs, lifetime motivations…”  —Amazon verified purchaser

“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject. In addition, this small volume contains “Biographical Notes” on the main figures cited and also a Bibliography of the sources quoted.” —Wayne C. Temple, world-renowned Lincoln scholar, critic, and author, Illinois State Archives

A stirring, inspirational treasury of quotations from our greatest and most admired president, the book offers rich material for interpretation, reflection, and spiritual guidance.

In these pages, Lincoln, famed as an orator, shares his wisdom on courage and determination, compassion and compromise, tolerance and tact—the essential traits that define character. The timeless impact of his words is as powerful as the achievements that have helped to make him an American hero.


Order an autographed copy of Gene Griessman’s “Lincoln and Obama” for just $15.95. Free shipping in the U.S.”


eBook  Amazon KINDLE:http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009AIE15S

 eBook Barnes &Noble NOOK:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lincoln-and-obama-gene-griessman/1112294491?ean=2940015672855

 eBook Apple:http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/lincoln-and-obama/id562132442?ls=1


Don’t leave yet. Check out more articles. You’re already here. Why rush off? Whatyousay.com is a gold mine. We guarantee you’ll be a better communicator if you Do


–Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “The Words Lincoln Lived By” is in its 25th printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225.

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