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How to Handle Email Arguments

How to handle Email Arguments

Email “Gunfights”

Gunfights usually end when there is only one person left standing.

Unfortunately, it seems this also applies to email gunfighters. You know what I am talking about.

Email differences of opinion or misunderstandings lead to an ongoing back-and-forth that escalates in emotion and nastiness each time the Reply button is hit.

Much of this type of interaction has to do with the personalities involved. I’ve found the negative traits of always having to be right or get in the last word tend to prevail in the messiest of gunfights.

Who hasn’t found themselves at one time or another surprisingly involved in an email gunfight where it seems as though common sense or courtesy will not prevail? So what is the best way to handle this situation?

Take Time to Chill

When you find yourself in the beginnings of a gunfight — wait until the next day to reply — if at all. Hopefully, you are not one with a narcissistic personality that commands you to make your point and be the one with the last word. Or responds instantly.

Rarely is there anything positive to gain with this approach. When emotions are involved, things tend to go off the rails.

If I find myself communicating with such personalities, I “kill” them with kindness. But, if the gunslinger on the other side has to come back with more vitriol or nonsense to get in the last word, I let them.

And I let their last nasty inconsiderate communication hang “out there” without my reply.

Diffuse By Not Responding

Being most of these folks who want to get your riled are breathlessly waiting for your reply, don’t. By not doing so, you just ended their temper tantrum, whether they like it or not. Sometimes no response is more potent than any words you can type.

I don’t need to get in the last word simply for the sake of doing so. My ego is not wrapped up in proving I am right to those without an open mind. Nor do I have the innate need to be the one with the last word so I have some sort of feeling of accomplishment.

When you find yourself in a gunfight with a “last worder,” always take the higher ground and walk away. Realize there are good guys and bad guys in every gunfight.

Choose to be the guy wearing the white hat. And ride off into the sunset. That leaves the door open for potential clarification and ongoing, hopefully, civil communications down the road.

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