Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was an even tempered leader who was known as much for his gentle demeanour as he was for his propensity for top hats and story-telling. On the rare occasion that Abe found himself getting angry or frustrated he found a way to channel those emotions through letter-writing. He was known to sit down and write what he referred to as a “hot letter” to the individual he was angry with and then he would set the letter aside and not send it. This was his version of venting - he found it therapeutic to record his thoughts and ideas in the heat of the moment and then move on. This was a healthy, safe and non-hurtful way to speak his mind.
Letter dates 19 September 1862
You idiot. You moron. You half-witted pompous little runt. You let Lee get away. The bearded goons in my cabinet have more real military ability that you have. That’s it.
Just you wait, Shorty…
In this day and age of instant communication, we would all do well to take a page out of Honest Abe’s book and think before we type, text or tweet in anger. Just last week after receiving an email that I found annoying I composed my very own hot letter. After taking a few moments to reflect, I actually had a bit of a giggle at what I had written in such an emotional state and I was more than happy to press delete instead of send. I was then able to rewrite a more diplomatic, professional email that was going to produce a better result for everyone involved.
So, if you ever feel your resolve slipping and you are overcome with the urge to blast someone on Facebook or fire off a nasty email just stop, breathe and think of Abe. Scribble down a few zingers privately if it makes you feel better, toss them away and move on.