Have you ever tried to recall a sent email?
It never really works.
Here’s a rule of thumb: Don’t put anything in an email you wouldn’t want to be repeated on TV tomorrow.
It’s, however, violated on a regular basis by people who should know better.
I once sent out an email that I composed in a rush - wasn’t angry, wasn’t tired, or anything like that.
Just letting my guard down a bit.
It sent off with a “WTF” flourish - caused chaos. I was misunderstood, I caused panic and alarm. I had to smooth it over.
I couldn’t even remember the next day what the heck I wrote.
God, I hate that feeling… “The Dawn Of A Dumb-Ass”.
I’m sure you have a similar story of your own.
The problem lies in instant communication when we REALLY need to let things sit and stew for a while.
Remember back when the most instant means of communication was telephone...or mailing a letter?
Somehow, being in the presence of another human being naturally inhibits your urge to tell him how you really feel.
For example, talking to someone on the phone forces you to think and form words.
It may only be a fraction of a second, but you still have time to shut up, or even pretend you were misunderstood. (“Did I say ‘would you go to dinner with me?’ I didn’t mean to say that. I know you already made plans with Mike. I meant to say ‘wasn’t the weather nice today?'”)
Today, technology lets you shoot a shower thought into someone’s inbox faster than a blink.
This is not a good thing.
When I used to write a lot more, I wrote pretty fast and most edits were window dressing between my initial draft and the final version.
But I’ve never published my first draft as my final copy.
I let most of them sit for a few days (at least a day). Let it cool down. You’d be amazed at the crap that will scoot your inner editor while your writing is too fresh.
We gotta learn to “cool down” - a state to relax into, say, when you got stuck on 490 East and there’s nothing you can do about it. Or when your girlfriend is trying to find something to wear for the Christmas Party. Or when you’re about to rush to board the flight at the last minute - you notice a gorgeous sunset.
In a culture that demands speed over everything else, most people do not understand or value contemplation.
That’s why we could all benefit from Abraham Lincoln's brilliant method of the Unsent Angry Letter.