[SoG] The unsent, draft folder in your mailbox

The Drafts Folder.
Your escape route from conflicts!

Picture this.

You are part of a chain email where you have 4 colleagues, 2 suppliers, 2 clients, and some other random people on it. And out of the blue, a peer (not senior, not junior, but a peer) decides to blame you for something that you had absolutely no role to play in. What more? The peer takes off and starts abusing you with all his might and uses the choicest expletives to communicate his opinion of you. On that public chain mail. With all those scores of people still marked on that mail.

He's crossed a line that is as sacred as Lakshman Rekha was! And in all probability, your colleague sis wrong to have leveled such allegations against you.

What would you do?

I'll give you a few options. Pick one.

  • a, replying nastier tone and use the worst words that you can come up with.

  • b, take a stoic silence, and ignore the email. As if he did not exist.

  • c, think hard about a proper response that is politically correct and despatch that off.

Lemme prime you.
If I were the one to get that nasty email, I know that my pride would be hurt. And while I may not want to respond to all of those people or even worry about allegations being made against me, I would like to present my case and then, may be exit the room politely.

What would you do?
No, there are no correct answers.

Ready with the answer?
I ran a dipstick among a few friends and most took the second route. Not sure if it were peer pressure or a compulsion to look good. But they took the second route and I was surprised at the choice. I mean how's it possible that all my friends are stoics?

Coming to the point of this email.

This was thrown to me as a scenario by one of my spiritual gurus. When I told him about what I'd do, he gave me a tip, that I've since used and benefitted immensely. And it is this...

Wait. Lemme use steps to explain.

Step 1. Do not "correct" your emotions. React the way you normally would. Write a reply the way you would (if you do decide to reply to him). Be as nasty, as pragmatic, as apologetic or as dismissive as you would be on a regular day. But, don't send it yet.

Step 2. Once you've written your response, go take a walk. Come back and read your response again. See if you over-reacted.

How do you know if you've overreacted?
Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. And imagine getting this email, even if you were wrong to send the original one. If you feel bad, you are overreacting. May be, tone it down. But, don't send it yet. Go for a walk.

Step 3. Once you're back, ask yourself if you still feel as bad? Or you've, sort of, moved on? After all, life has a lot more to offer!

If you've moved on, let the email remain in your drafts folder and do nothing about it. If you're still fretting, all the more reason you let the email remain in your drafts folder. And you do nothing about it.

Step 4. Move on to the next task on your list.
Effectively, you chose to not reply to that email.

Of course, it may be construed as a sign of weakness, admission of guilt, or even tolerance. But what it really is, is your acceptance that you are ok if someone does not speak to you with kindness.

Oh, and the email in your drafts folder is also your response. To the Universe, not to the perp. And that is where you must stop. You have balanced the Universe's scale by responding to the allegations and you have not escalated the conflict by attempting to offer explanations.

With time, everyone (the sender, the colleagues, the strangers, and even you) move on. We are insignificant specks in the large scheme of things. And we often inflate the concept of self and we get into conflicts. This simple method of drafting your thoughts, putting them on a piece of paper, and not sending is a great way to let it out of the system. And not aggravate!

You know this is in principle similar to the unscientific pour-your-grief-on-a-letter-and-burn-it thingy that almost all cultures have. There is no evidence per se but the practitioners of the occult swear by it. I was a skeptic but once I started to keep my responses in my drafts folder, I was a convert.

Oh, and of course, this may not be universally applicable. There may be cases where your response is imperative. Please be prudent at such instances and do exercise your rights to defend yourself. But at least in the minor skirmishes, to start with, do try to let go. And Breathe. It works. Really does. It has worked for me. And for at least 5000 people that follow the Guru's preaching.

And final, Step 5. Repeat each time you are in a similar situation. And over time, allow your drafts folder to become your assistant in fighting off the potential conflicts.

Try it next time. Lemme know what you think.

Over and out :)


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