Okay, you have all been there, right? You are frustrated at someone or something, maybe angry, hurt or all of the above. You decide that email is your best option to communicate how you feel.
Whoaaa! Wait before you send that angry email.
A number of years ago I was misunderstood by a colleague of mine who had thrown me under the bus. I felt that her only motive for doing so was to shift the blame and accountability off of her and move it to me.
It felt unfair, calculating and conniving – I was fuming. I was so angry I immediately opened a new email message directed to this person, our business partner and boss and disputed everything she had said with my own personal spice and attacks.
I was getting ready to press “Send” when my wife walked in to my office. Before sending that email I decided to vent with her and then read the email to her that I was about to send. She kindly advised me not to send it.
“Ugh,” I thought. “Are you kidding,” I told her. She wasn’t kidding and explained that if I sent it I would regret it. She is wise. I decided not to send the email, and I am sure glad I listened.
If I had decided to send the email it would have caused myself bigger problems. Perhaps I may have created a new problem that I didn’t even have before.
Here are three important tips that could save your reputation and maybe even your job.
1. Rest on it. Before you send that angry email (which might not be a bad idea to write for therapeutic reasons) sleep on it, or at the very least give yourself a couple of hours to calm down. This is difficult. For many the first instinct is to attack; to fight. I instead recommend that you walk away. It is amazing how your perspective changes when you have some time to think about it.
2. Talk to someone. If you can I always recommend you find someone you can trust and share your feelings and thoughts with. This allows you to “check” your feelings.
My wife Terri is the one I turn to. She has always been good at helping me understand whether I am justified in how I feel and what I should do about it. After talking to her I often realize that I wasn’t being fair, or my expectations were unrealistic.
3. Meet. The problem with email is the tone. The tone is always left to the interpretation of the person receiving the email. Instead, meet with the person you are frustrated, hurt or angry with. I have never seen conflict worked out effectively over email and it never will. Email was never intended to be used as a vehicle for conflict resolution.
Meeting with someone where there might be conflict, is difficult. However tone of voice, body language and facial expressions can’t be effectively discerned with emoticons. But they all play a critical role in communication.
Have you ever sent an angry email that you regretted? Have you ever received an angry email from someone else that created big problems? I would love to hear your stories. Please comment below.
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