Drafting Email You’ll Never Send-Probably

It’s not uncommon to get frustrated about something at work and send out an email blasting whatever person or group has caused you the frustration. It rarely ends well. It’s usually not very effective in generating the change, and it doesn’t do much to build your reputation as someone that can moderate their emotions under stress. Still, it’s a human thing to do, and sometimes – sometimes – very satisfying as well, regardless of the resulting consequences. Think of this as Level 1.

At Level 2 you’re wise enough to not click send at the end of the writing. Writing is useful, it’s cathartic on its own, and sometimes the writing helps you realize that your frustration, though real, isn’t something that sending this particular email (or maybe any email) will fix. Saving it as a draft and coming back to it, even an hour later, gives you the chance to cool off just a little. Sometimes they get edited and then sent (better an edit than not), more often they just sit in the drafts folder,piling up as a silent record of the stresses and strains of work.

At Level 3 you don’t write the email. You’ve grown to the point where you manage your reaction to the stress and arrive at a decision that an email isn’t going to change your problem. You might just let it go,you might log it mentally for a follow up when the right opportunity arises.

Level 4, attained only by Yoda, is where you don’t get frustrated.

Level 2 is interesting. It’s an active response to a stressor and a fairly effective one too. Aiming for Level 3 is worthwhile, but if you never get there, that’s ok. It’s also worth remembering that even as an enlightened Level 3 under the right kind of stress (say lack of sleep + aggravating co-worker) you might revert to Level 2 or even Level 1.

I have to admit to laughing (cackling? howling?) at the idea of saving all of those drafts and when you finally leave, sending all of them. Take that you aggravating swine! Fun to imagine, horrific in the implementation I think. Write the draft if you will, but delete the draft soon after. 

Ah, the things I think about.

2 thoughts on “Drafting Email You’ll Never Send-Probably

  1. I can absolutely relate to this! I”m sometimes far too quick to fire off emails where in retrospect, taking a moment to just breathe and reflect on the situation would have been better and not then have to deal with the nasty email that has just been sent. I think I”ve reached level 1.5 so far in my life!… I”m getting better with age, but it isn”t easy….
    great idea about saving them all up for the day that you leave! or even just saving them up to help convince you to start looking for that next job!…


  2. This one made me smile as I am guilty of Level2. I have so many of those emails in my drafts folder. I hope nobody ever sees them. But it is a good record of situations and what my initial reaction was going to be. 10 days, months later when I look at it, I am so glad that I did not send those. Many times I just write it so I can log what my initial reaction is and to learn from it a month later. It helps.


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