Ed is a Relate counsellor.  He writes from a personal viewpoint, not as a representative of the Relate organisation.

“By all means write an angry letter. Just don’t post it”. That’s common advice, and good advice, often given to someone young.

I remember being in my early twenties (nearly half a century ago) and writing a furious letter that gave me great pleasure to write. It was to a government department, and they had been unfair in their dealings with me, but I have no memory of the specific issue now. What I do remember is that it was a two-page letter of perhaps 500 words. Every word was chosen to score a point, and I had a picture in mind of the civil servant reading it and wincing as each beautifully honed shaft of sarcasm pierced deep.

I did post the letter.

​​The outcome? No outcome. I doubt if the civil servant whose desk it landed on gave much time to it.  They might have shown it round the office as an amusing screed from some nut who’d lost his rag, but I doubt it. More likely it was in the bin within a few seconds, while the official turned to something that called on him to make a decision.

That’s where the relevance to mediation comes in; it’s in the word decision. The sage advice to the angry letter-writer is to get the venting stage over first (“Write the letter but don’t post it”) and then to compose a letter that calls for making decisions about actions. If possible, it should of course include the option that is most favourable to you; but it should also provide reason to avoid the option of ignoring the letter and doing nothing. The mental image in the writer’s mind should not be of the reader writhing under the assault, but of their sitting thinking, faced with a decision on action.

Some people  vent their feelings, but others who are wiser put themselves in their opponent’s shoes and consider their options and their words. It’s this mature approach that wins both in complaining and seeking redress through mediation.

Mediation is for the mature mind.