When a conversation has gone south and you want to engage in relationship repair, set boundaries for the relationship, or end the relationship, a written response can be quite useful. That is, if you refrain from sending off an email that is written while angry, hurt, or in any triggered state. If you do have the self-restraint to hold yourself back from clicking on send, then focusing is not only possible but highly recommended.
Regardless of whether you are engaged in repair, setting boundaries, or ending the relationship, staying focused on the end you have in mind is central to your response.
A basic principal to follow has to do with what you don't say as well as what you do say. In making Lord of the Rings, filmmaker Peter Jackson, used the notion of “Frotocentric” to decide if a scene went into the film or was cut. The idea, then, is to decide what is “Frotocentric” in your conversation and in this case, written correspondence.
If you desire relationship repair, it is “Frotocentric” to be self-responsible and address all the ways in which you contributed to the situation. Apologies go a long way if they are sincere and they show that you are really acknowledging your part of the situation. Being vulnerable and self-responsible actually takes more courage than to “act strong” when you are really coming from a defensive posture. Let the other person know why the relationship is important to you and how you intend to follow through. Also, ask the other person what you might do to create repair.
If you are setting limits, it is “Frotocentric” to be clear about the limits you want, state them in behavioral terms without any interpretation of the other person's motives or intent, and state the behaviors that you do want in a positive way. Remember that the brain does not hear 'no' or 'not,' so the more you are able to speak in the positive, the more likely it will be that your wishes will be carried out.
If you are ending a relationship, it is “Frotocentric” to stay out of the weeds. The details of who said what are unimportant when you are ending a relationship. Given that each person probably perceives the situation differently, it is “Frotocentric” to let go of coming to agreement or proving that you are 'right.' Staying focused might mean getting out of the relationship cleanly without creating any further pain for yourself or the other. Using a “Frotocentric” approach, you might say something about why you are ending the relationship and that you still wish the other person well.
The good thing about writing and waiting is that you can review what you wrote, show it to others and get feedback, and rewrite it or tweak it until you feel good with it. When you are ready to send it, make sure you are clear about stating what you want from the other. If you want a response, let the person know that by making such requests as: “Please let me know that you received this” or “I look forward to hearing your response as soon as you are ready” or “Please let me know when I might hear back from you. Thanks in advance.” Without any clear request, you are left wondering if your email or letter reached the other or if they have any intention of responding.
If you are ending a relationship, you may want to make a different kind of statement that clarifies that you do not want the person to respond.
Stay focused on the mission.”
- Naveen Jain
Whether you are doing relationship repair, setting limits, or ending a relationship, staying focused is akin to Keeping your Lamborghini on the Road. Careening off the road or ending up in a ditch does not get you to where you want to go.