Recently, I’ve decided to put much more effort in expressing my opinion (and disagreements) through short and concise letters. Most of my friends have not mentioned this change. My oldest brother has commented that my responses are “overly bureaucratic”.
Why I Respond Through Letters
Whatever the response, my continuing decision to “leave a paper-trail” by leaving a written response has been an intentional and calculated decision. Here are some of my reasons why I decided to spend time writing response letters:
People have to read my letter from beginning to end.
As a result, people are less likely to put words in my mouth or interrupt me when I am “speaking”. Also, it gives them time to read my letter carefully and deliberately in order to provide back a meaningful response.
People are held more accountable to their words.
When I started writing responses, I noticed that many of my friends who where once very vocal were much less responsive, even those who were much more articulate than me. While I do think that it is because they are more comfortable speaking than writing, a large part of their hesitancy is due to the increased seriousness of written ideas . People would be much more hesitant to carelessly say words if their words can be easily led back to a name and a face. Of course, the caveat is that my words will be carefully scrutinized. I am fine with that because my desire is to live a life of integrity. As in, I want all areas of my life―my words, my actions, and my beliefs―to be integrated. So, if I am wrong, then I am wrong, and I’ll own up to it. So, one of the primary purposes of my writing (as well as my actions) is to edify everyone around me.
Written responses convey that my opinionated response is intentional, serious, and rational.
My actions can seem ostensibly garrulous and impetuous. I admit it. Yet, that does not mean that ALL my ideas had no prior forethought. A short, concise letter shows my intent, regardless of my perceived personality.
I can take my write something articulate and succinct.
I am not an articulate person. Also, I’ve been in situations where people can talk circles around me. Writing a response give me time to level the playing field. I’ve been in situations were I know the other person is saying something blatantly false. Yet, at the time, I could not pinpoint the fallacy of their reasoning. This give me time to ruminate on what they said and provide a high-caliber response.
I’ve also struggled in one-on-one discussions because of the type of words that I use. I’ve had more people attack my words rather than the intent behind my words. In other situations, I felt like I was losing because I don’t sound “smart”. I believe both words and intent are important in a conversation, and my hope is that short and concise public letters can help mitigate that.
I can rehash my letter to frequent topics.
Oft, old arguments pop up again and again. By writing them down, I can begin to build a repository of arguments that I can send to others if the issue pops up again. It saves me time and energy.
Letters can be made into articles, posts, and books.
There have been so many times when I used a letter as an inspiration for a post. Sometimes, I even use the letter itself as the blog post.
Provide Opportunities for Conviction and Change.
I get annoyed when people argue for the sake of arguing. It is a waste of my time and energy that I could use elsewhere.
If the purpose of the conversation is to gain a common understanding and work together to fix or mitigate the problem, then lets phrase it that way. If it is to catch up on old times, then we should come into the conversation with that intent in mind. However, if we try to get “close to each others” by discussing things outside of our control or responsibility, more likely than not, the conversation ends up as gossip.
I am not saying, however, that all conversations have to have a clear intent or goal. If others want to do that, great! I’d probably excuse myself because I have responsibilities to do and as the saying goes “Time waits for no-one.”
Ultimately, writing response letters makes me responsible for my own words while also makes those involved in the conversation responsible for their own words as well. Letters forces people to slow down and think deliberately and rationally.