It is easy to send a hurtful response because sometimes we cannot control our impulsive needs and because we know technology won’t delay the retribution we think we ought to dispense. The moment we receive an email that creates a commotion of emotions, we think that the sender deserves an ‘immediate’ response. But, more often we forget the repercussions of not being mindful and as a consequence end up sowing seeds of hostility when it is least required. Then again, how do you reply to such emails? Do you sweep the messages under the carpet, make a joke about it, ask for an unbiased opinion or continue masterminding a revenge via an angry email?
Read and walk away
Swapnil Kamat, CEO &Co-founder Work Better Training says, “The thumb rule to writing an email when you are resentful and irritated is to postpone until next morning. If you can’t delay, think of how it will look when printed on your company’s letterhead. Whatever cannot be written and sent out on that piece of paper should not be sent over email either, no matter what you are feeling.”
You might be infuriated by what sits and stares at you but disallow those words from controlling how you feel. Leave your cubicle and grab yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of water. If you still can’t find peace then go for a walk, even if it is a five-minute catch up session with a colleague or someone over phone. Just make it a point that you aren’t discussing the email that put you off.
Write a draft email
Alright, now that you are back to your station, do not immediately embark on project: ‘vengeance with words’. Sit back and resume with your schedule. Slow down and keep your impulse in check. Once you think you aren’t too volatile, compose a draft email with nobody in ‘to’, ‘cc’ or ‘bcc’. Just write what you think can be called an appropriate response so as to quench the urge to show the sender how you feel.
Wait, don’t send it right away
Can you recall one instance from your personal or perhaps professional life where you regret having done something in an irate state of mind? Or when you were unreasonable in your approach to handle a situation which required you to be emotionally sound? It is rather important for us to know that emotions are short-lived. Wait for your anger to dissipate since it usually does. We are grown-ups and can’t go on behaving like a five-year old who wasn’t given a candy and feels the best way out is running around in circles.
Edit. Delete. Read. Edit. Don’t send. Not yet.
Now go back to your email, preferably the next day. You will notice that most of what you typed deserves to be trashed. You will find yourself deleting words, phrases and even paragraphs written when you were experiencing anger pangs. Rewrite portions where you are feel you might be pushing their button. Most importantly, you will realise that your desire to scream has disappeared and that you are adept at handling the situation far better than you had imagined.
Filter facts from emotions
Although your spiteful email manages capture the emotions you have been feeling, but most of them are irrational because you are typing in anger and without thinking through the consequences. You might think you need to convey your frustration, but an immediate reply isn’t the most effective way of doing it.
Begin by segregating facts from emotions and your assumptions. Address the matter in question. Are they questioning your credibility with or without reason? Do you think you can show them logic behind your inability to deliver on time? Are they being unreasonable in their expectations of you? Can you tell them what seems achievable? The point is that you shouldn’t be distracted by emotion-laden words. Focus on what the sender is asking you.
Why must you respond in anger?
This is a pertinent question which you must ask yourself. Is it to make the other person know who is in control? Or, are you doing it because you know there is no other way you can deal with the situation than being spiteful? Whatever your reason be, make sure you know it clearly in your head. If it is a pointless rant then you should rather stop.
Can you talk instead?
Rather than trapping yourself in a loop of angry and annoying email exchange, can you instead talk to your colleague? Move forwars with the purpose of finding a solution and not to make a mountain out of the mole hill. Unbelievable but most times it is the sheer assumption that makes us predisposed to decode the tone of voice of emails as negative.
Finally, before pushing the envelope, take a few extra minutes to reflect on your intention. If you are sure you have every word in place then send it. Nothing should backfire provided you made sure there is nothing dramatic about what you wrote.