The art of correspondence used to be a big deal. Just watch the movies The Shop around the Corner or 84 Charing Cross Road and you'll know what I mean.
But even though correspondence isn't as sexy as it used to be, it's still a part of life. A huge part, in fact. How many texts and emails have we sent by lunchtime? Of course, a lot of that writing is mundane or just plain silly, but sometimes, what we write can greatly affect our lives.
For example, there's that email you want to send your boss to convince her to give you that promotion she keeps hinting at. Or your neighbor, who swears he'll repair his retaining wall (so your backyard no longer floods when it rains) but still hasn't done it. And what about that contractor who always seems to have an excuse for why your kitchen still isn't finished?
These kinds of situations can leave us feeling angry, frustrated, and powerless. You might think about asking your cousin (who happens to be a heavyweight boxer) to make a house call. More often than not, though, many just give up, thinking there's nothing they can do to rectify the situation or they're afraid of offending the person.
But there is something you can do to convince the other party to do what you need them to do. And not only is it legal, it will gain you respect in other person's eyes: You can send a well written email or letter. How will this change anything? Because people get spooked when they open a letter or an email and read something that sounds like it's coming from a really intelligent person who means business.
Sending a well written email or letter not only gets someone's attention, it also provides you with a record of your complaint which you might need if you have to take the person to court. And believe me, landlords, contractors, and most business owners know that legal cases are initiated with a written document sent by the injured party.
I first realized the power of the written word when I felt someone or a business was not respecting my rights as a consumer. In some cases, I knew I was being taken advantage of. But after communicating through writing, without spending a cent on an attorney, I was able to achieve my goal and felt safe in the process.
The art of correspondence may be lost but sending a great email or letter is still the best way to get someone's attention and convince them to do the right the thing within the confines of the law.