Sometimes people find themselves in a situation in relationships where it’s very difficult to talk to somebody else. Maybe you don’t feel safe. Maybe it’s the kind of conversation that ends up in a fight, and perhaps you’re really scared. Sometimes writing a letter is a better way to open the door to an in-person conversation.

Video Transcript
This is Sevin Philips. Sometimes people find themselves in a situation in relationships where it’s very difficult to talk to somebody else. Maybe you don’t feel safe. Maybe it’s the kind of conversation that ends up in a fight, and perhaps you’re really scared. Sometimes writing a letter is a better way to open the door to an in-person conversation.

I’m going to teach you the structure that I use to write these kinds of letters for the best outcome possible. This could be to a friend; it could be to a family member; it could be to a lover. It’s used when you want to get really clear about what is going on for you and your experience and share it with somebody else and have them truly understand you.

When you take the time to write a letter, you take the time to understand yourself. Sometimes by writing the letter, you can have a deeper understanding of what’s really going on for you, which is a great thing to do before you talk to somebody.

The first part of the letter needs to begin like this: “I’m writing this letter because…” That first paragraph needs to be sharing the intent of the whole letter. An could be “I’m writing this letter because I’ve noticed over the last couple of months that we haven’t been talking to each other as much and I feel disconnected.” (Something like that.)

Then you move into the body of the letter. The body of the letter needs to be really simple and really clear. Usually there’s one, two, or three examples of your experience that you want to share.

This is the formula. You name the behavior or the words that were said, and then you name the experience that you had as a result of that, because obviously it’s not okay to tell somebody what they think or what they feel or even insinuate that you know what they’re doing.

An example might be “When you came over to my house a couple weeks ago, you told me that you didn’t trust me anymore. What I took out of that is you didn’t want to be friends with me anymore, which is really scary and makes me sad.”

Another example could be “I saw you at a party a couple weeks ago and you came in and left really quickly. I was worried that you saw me and left because you didn’t really want to see me anymore.”

Notice how clean and simple it is. This is the kind of letter you need to write.

The last paragraph is letting them know what you want out of this. An example might be “After reading this letter, will you text or reach out to me and let me know when a time would be to talk? Because I really want to clear this up and have our friendship back.” That’s a great example of how to end it. You’re letting them know what you want out of it.

Here are a few things to watch out for. Most people want to write longer letters. This should really be only 15-20 sentences. It’s that simple. I know there’s a lot more feeling and probably a lot more content you could put into it, but this isn’t a place to do that. What happens if you do put too much information in is you lose the intent of the letter. You dilute it. You also run the risk of having that person who’s reading it grab onto something that you said that has nothing to do with what you want to tell them.

Another thing you can do is have somebody who you respect read the letter. Tell them what you’re trying to do. Tell them the format I’m discussing. Have them look to see if there are any sort of hooks or triggers in there. Maybe you’ve strayed away from the format and it might lend itself to take away from what you want to say.

Most of these letters lead to deeper communication and more in-person meetings and more love in our lives. I hope this is helpful. Thank you.

2 Comments

  1. Patrick Butler on August 22, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Thank you, Sevin Philips. This article of yours I find helpful for its attention on how to employ simplicity in written communication. I wish I had found it sooner in life, as it very likely would have had a positive effect had I used even a small portion of what it suggests. Thank you for sharing it with us.



  2. Deb Ryan on August 28, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    a rated for such a long period of time and that they still call themselves family. I have a definition that does not match any of theirs for what fame family means. The family is all disconnected and separated and they blame and resent one another. The fact that the situation and is what it is is so sad for me and I am moving far away for many reasons. I want to tell each of them the love and forgiveness I have for them and in turn be honest of how toxic this “so-called family.” has been for me. I must be in a positive place to deal with good and hopeful parts of life and not be immersed in falsehood. Each member of my family each are disconnected one from the other and it is way too difficult for me to live in the same community and hear what a wonderful family we have. So, I must put together honest feelings to let go of what the reality holds of never being a family again.