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. E-mail 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 having to always 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?
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 of those with a narcissistic personality that commands you make your point and be the one with the last word. Rarely, is there anything positive to gain with that approach.
If I find myself communicating with such personalities, I “kill” them with kindness. If the gunslinger on the other side just has to come back with more vitriol or nonsense to simply get in the last word, I let them. And I let their last nasty inconsiderate communication hang “out there” without my reply. Being most of these folks want to get your riled and breathlessly wait your reply, by not doing so you just ended their temper tantrum whether they like it or not. Sometimes no reply is more powerful than any words you can type.
I don’t have the 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 that 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 realize there are good guys and bad guys in every gunfight. Choose to be the guy wearing the white hat.