Being completely honest with friends about how they are making you feel is not an easy undertaking, but writing a letter to get your feelings off your chest can be good for your health, according to a 2006 study published in the “Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.” Writing a letter to express how you feel allows time for you to craft what you want to say and how you want to say it. The absence of facial cues and body language opens up avenues for miscommunication, however, so it is important to find the best way to communicate what you are feeling.
Determine the relationship you have with each of your friends. Researchers at Tilburg University found that friends who know each other well know how the other can be expected to act and think, filling in gaps in a written letter. Think about your letter from the point of view of each of your friends, and try to anticipate the reaction of each to avoid miscommunication. When dealing with a group of friends, decide whether to address one letter to the entire group or to craft individualized letters to each of your friends.
Target your letter to fit your goal and purpose in writing it. Psychologist Will Meek finds that because there are often so many feelings to express in a letter, it could easily become a mess that is not read in the way you hope. Try to stick to “I” statements to communicate how you feel instead of “you” statements that can come off as accusatory.
Keep it natural and simple. In the book “How to Speak and Write Correctly,” the authors stress that when writing a letter to friends, you should not have to strain to find the right words. Instead, express your thoughts and ideas as they naturally occur to you, in a conversational tone. You can follow the formal elements of a letter by crafting a greeting, main body and closing, but try not to be overly formal.
Be honest. A 2006 study at the University of Albany found that writing a letter to a friend who has helped or hurt you could result in longer stretches of sleep and fewer sick days. Writing a letter to someone who has hurt you can be especially meaningful, resulting in better quality of sleep at night.
- Tilburg Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Civil Law and Conflict Resolution Systems: From :-( to :-) Using Online Communication to Improve Dispute Resolution
- How to Speak and Write Correctly; Joseph Devlin and Theodore Waters
- WillMeekPhD.com: How to Write a Difficult Letter
- Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Health Effects of Expressive Letter Writing
- You may write a number of drafts before settling on a letter that works for you. You could even decide not to send the letter at all after you have written it. Weigh your need to express how you feel with your desire to see concrete changes in the future.
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