Human nature is a marvelous thing that is sometimes positive and helpful and sometimes not so much. Letter writing is a very good example of how human nature can take an issue and use a positive spin or negative spin to achieve a desired outcome.
A GLTPA member recently shared a letter he received from a public agency. The letter starts out well thanking the logger for being an active partner in helping to meet forest management objectives for more than 10 years and then goes downhill from there. The letter described how there had been perceived infractions and pointed out all the bad things the logger member was to be corrected on. As human nature goes the letter was not well received.
The letter went on to tell this seasoned veteran logger what his company’s “recent poor performance” was going to cost him “If the high standard of work the agency has come to expect from our producers” was not met. After a few more lines of cautioning the letter closes with “We sincerely hope that the performance of your company will improve, and this action will not be necessary.” Really?
As you may expect there’s more background to the members letter or as Paul Harvey used to say on his radio program, “The rest of the story” which will remain untold at this time as the details don’t matter to make the point. The point is that a letter can condemn, which is primarily what the agency’s letter does, or it can give guidance and positive direction for resolving issues without the use of authority. Anytime authority is exerted whether necessary or not, human nature automatically insists on pushing back.
As the member stated to me, there were issues which prompted writing of the letter, however all the burden of proof was placed on the logger with the other party taking no responsibility whatsoever. An example of this is where the letter states they will be monitoring the rate at which uncompleted sales are closed. When did it become the logger’s ability to close public timber sales? These were not private timber sales so if the sales weren’t finished satisfactorily, why were they closed and who closed them? Because of knowing a few more details and the context of this letter I wonder who’s “poor performance” should be in question, the loggers or the agency’s? This scenario shows how a letter written with an authoritative state of mind rather than a resolutive state of mind takes on the tone of being largely hypocritical adding distrust to an already strained relationship.
The fix to this common issue is quite easy. Yes, there were some mistakes made and we’ve all made them, and yes, others have a responsibility to do their job, however, it’s how and with what frame of mind that an issue and resolution are presented that gets the issue resolved in a positive manner. Instead of ending the logger/customer letter in an accusatory manner, why not end the way it was started, on a positive note? It could say something like:
“In closing let us reiterate that we greatly value the partnership we have and the professional work your company has done on past timber sales. If there is anything the agency can do to assist your company in remaining a key partner, we stand ready to discuss and provide guidance as appropriate to help bring your company into compliance with agency requirements. Please feel free to contact our department at any time.”
Rest assured ending a letter in this manner will almost certainly add credence to your message while holding both the logger/customer and the agency to higher standard of cooperation and therefore quicker resolution to any issue.
In thinking about the topic of human nature and given the fact the Christmas season is upon us, I couldn’t help but wonder what a letter from God to me or other believers might look like. To begin with it would likely not be a two-page letter but more of scroll if he listed all the commandments I’ve broken. Second, if at the end of the scroll he wrote, “I continue monitoring the situation and sincerely hope your performance improves or the action of eternal condemnation will be necessary.” All hope would be gone wouldn’t it? Instead of a hopeless being we have this annual celebration of Christmas in which we remember and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who came to this earth, lived a life of perfection and was crucified for all our sins so we can have eternal life. What an awesome ending to his letter of salvation. The ultimate message is that no hurdle can’t be overcome in his kingdom. Is there any reason we shouldn’t follow his lead when writing to our fellow human beings?
Until next month,
Christmas is that moment in time when God in his unconditional love stepped out of Heaven and on to earth in order that we might one day step out of earth and into Heaven for all eternity.
Luke 2: 8-14; and there where shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on who his favor rests.”God Bless and Merry Christmas.