More than once I’ve told people I had much more fun when I was a disc jockey than when I was the general manager of several radio stations. Play the records, say stuff, go out on promotions, give away prizes. Yeah, that’s more fun than going to board meetings and making up budgets and handling disputes among staff members. It didn’t happen often, because we had terrific people working at the stations, but sometimes, something would flare up and trigger a “you dirty rat letter.”
From time to time someone would come to my office, angrily flip a sheet of paper on my desk, and say something like, “Look at this note I got from so-and-so. He’s being a jerk again.” Typically, the message was about something non life-threatening and easily resolved. Sometimes not. In any event, I always encouraged an alternative to the “you dirty rat” method. It was pretty simple.
I’d say, “When you have an issue, go ahead; write the “you dirty rat” message. Let it all out. Put all your anger into that page. Then, fold it and put it away; desk drawer is a good place. Then wait until the next morning, take it out and read it, as if someone had sent it to you. Then, tear it up.”
I would tell them to go talk to the person. Face to face. The two-way conversation will resolve the issue faster and better than a one way “dirty rat” shot up side the head. But, how does this work in today’s world where most communication is by email or text?
Easy, just write the “you dirty rat” letter as a draft, but not within the email or texting program, where it could be sent by accidentally clicking on one wrong key or, worse yet, go out to the wrong person. Yikes!
Compose the letter in an offline program, like Word or Notepad, and save it in a confidential folder where nobody else will see it. The next morning, open it up, read it. . .and deleted it. Then go talk to the person. If you can’t get up the nerve to do that, then the matter must not have been so important after all, and you have to let it go. Just let it go.