E-mail Etiquette

Persuade and Convince - Don't Alienate
by Karen Dawn

Some of the greatest Animal rights activists used to be hunters. Then they woke up. Some of the most powerful members of our movement used to work in the meat industry. Most of us used to eat meat. We changed our ways because we saw the light, not because someone insulted us. This must be top of mind as we write letters. If we insult and alienate someone who may have eventually, even years down the line, become a supporter, then we are venting our anger at the expense of the animals.


If you are writing a complaint to a show or publication, a store or a company, an organization or a politician, whose work or products you have appreciated in the past, do not lose the opportunity to pay a compliment. Then, gently point out the error of their current ways. Forgive the animal clichˇ, but "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." It is human nature to care more about pleasing a friend who has been wronged than an adversary. The reader of your letter is only human.

The reader of your letter is also probably very busy. Keep notes short. Do not get sidetracked from your main point, or you will seem to be waffling. Save other points for future notes.

Use your spellchecker! (Just click the icon marked ABC at the top of your screen.) rightly or wrongly, people who can spell are assumed to be more intelligent and more educated and are taken more seriously.

The reputation of the Animal rights community is improving. However, there is still some perception of Animal rights activists as crazy and hate-filled. If our mission is to change the world, then unfortunately we must care about what people think; we must change their perceptions for the sake of the animals. Thus we must make sure that our letters are always rational, to the point, and preferably concerned or disappointed rather than outraged. Anger tends to put people on the defensive whereas concern and a rational argument can get a decent hearing. For the sake of the animals, we must be heard. We will be heard most clearly not when we are shouting loudest, but when we are communicating in such a way that people are willing to listen.

With regard to that mission to change the world, I leave you with those wonderful words of Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

This article is from the web site http://www.DawnWatch.com , an Animal rights media watch web site, which aims to mobilize activists to contact and influence the media.

©1999 Karen Dawn.



Insert date: 2009.05.16 Last update: 2009.05.16

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