I received a letter a couple of weeks ago from a person I will not identify. The reason for the anonymity should be relatively apparent when I explain the purpose of the communication. The individual contacting me was accused of a number of felony crimes several years ago. At the time of their arrest, the state agencies involved issued a press release detailing the charges, which were related to the workers’ compensation industry.

As we often do, our News Center ran that press release.

As it turns out, the case against this person and their company appears to have had serious flaws. The charges were dismissed nolle prosequi, which is a fancy shmancy Latin way of saying “unwilling to pursue” or “do not prosecute.” The end result of nolle prosequi normally is to leave things as they were prior to the charges being filed. As is the norm, the agencies involved did not issue a follow up press release.

The letter I received was personal in that it was from the person who had been accused of wrongdoing and it was addressed specifically to me. It explained the original charges, and included documentation showing the ultimate dismissal. It spoke of the pain and damage this event had caused at both personal and professional levels. It conveyed efforts in trying to restore both business and personal reputations. And it mentioned one continual and important hinderance to that struggle; the existence of the original state issued press release on WorkersCompensation.com. It was seeking to have that article removed.

We have on rare occasions received letters regarding people in similar circumstance. Those letters, however, have always come from attorneys on behalf of clients and contain excessive legalistic jargon as well as threats of legal action. They are, in my opinion, “over the top” in accusatory tone, making it sound as though we routinely beat puppies and club baby seals. Ironically, at least one of those attorney letters concerned a person who had been convicted of the crime to which they were accused, but that status did not wither the demand for removal.

This most recent letter represented none of that ridiculous bluster. It was polite and respectful. The writer was aware of me through this blog, indicated they held no malice, and simply asked if we “would consider” removing an article that no longer reflected the current status of their lives. It was most definitively honey to the comparative vinegar we’ve seen in the past.

Whenever we receive such a letter (as I indicated, they are rare), we set out to verify the facts as they are presented. This can include anything from detailed court record searches or contacting the issuing agency in question. It can often take several days for us to determine our response and carry it out. In the case of this latest request, I would say we moved quickly.

I truly appreciated the professional tenor and polite tone of the person who contacted us. It is a rare moment today where people do not hide behind lawyers and the law, and instead choose to personally lay their case and request before you. We still did our verifications, but the story they wished removed was gone within an hour of opening that letter.

Score one for honey.

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to be far more receptive to a request versus a demand. The polite request, the simple ask, the genial approach; these are methods that seem to be getting harder to find these days. Everyone wants to come out guns blazing, when a simple appeal may just do the trick.

Honey or vinegar. It’s a choice we have when pursuing a goal and dealing with others. I still maintain one method is far superior to others, and this recent event demonstrates that. It is something to think about, the next time we need to get something done…..

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