Writing a letter of recommendation is usually an ordinary experience, but there are times when writing such a letter can become a tar pit of emotion and psychic distress. You feel suspended in amber as you search for the right phrase to recommend a person who deserves no recognition. Are you required — by moral pitch or professional bitumen — to write a letter of recommendation even if that person did not live up to your expectation or the requirements of the task?
Can you be sued if you offer a negative opinion instead of mere facts of the person you are “recommending?” Is it best to tell someone, “Look, you don’t really want me to write you a letter, do you?” instead of just writing a generic letter that will help no one?
Does refusing to write a letter unfairly mark you as unwilling and unhelpful? Is your reputation at stake if you write a letter knowing the person in question is not of one of merit or is there an expectation in the Letter of Recommendation World that generic phrases like “hard worker” “good person” and “well-intentioned” are cue words you do not strongly believe in the person you are recommending?
How do you best handle a letter of recommendation request do you not wish to write? Have you asked someone to write you a letter to only later discover that person gave you a negative review that was in no way a recommendation?
Did you confront your letter writer or did you release the impulse for revenge? Do you prefer to write a letter that must remain private or do you not mind having the person you are recommending to later gain access to the letter?