Some onliners are quite bold in the anonymity being behind this screen offers. Those who are uniformed with lack of attention to detail do not hesitate to spew their opinions that many times are not based in fact or reality. What do you do when you are the recipient of an e-mail with this tone?
As of late, I have even found myself at a loss for words when reading some of the e-mail that has come my way. Unfortunately, I think all of us will have to deal with these “personalities” at one time or another and probably more so than any of us prefer. Here are some tips and guidelines to determine when, if and how to deal with rude or nasty e-mail:
- If you receive an e-mail with foul language or threats, know that this is against the TOS (Terms of Service) of all ISPs. Immediately send the e-mail to your ISP with full headers and file a formal complaint. All ISPs have information on how to do this on their site so check out their support area for guidance. If the threat is credible and disturbing, contact your local law enforcement agency for advice. Keep the e-mail on file in case you need to refer to it or provide additional copies down the road.
- When you receive an e-mail that is blatantly rude or obnoxious and is not based in fact, think about if there is any constructive reason to have to respond. In most cases there isn’t. If the tone is so crude that you feel your blood pressure rise, wait until the next morning at the very least to even think about if you will respond at all. Your ego is not large enough (I hope) to have the need to defend yourself when faced with incorrect accusations or personal digs.
Don’t lower yourself to their level by responding to this type of e-mail. Regardless of the tone or accusations within the e-mail in question, hold yourself to a higher ground and do not respond.
- If someone e-mails you because they are misinformed or possibly could have made an honest mistake, “kill” them with kindness and give them the benefit of the doubt. Better yet, point out in a kind manner the information to correct the issue or point them to the area on your site or another site that has the info they seek without personalizing the issue. Thank them for contacting you, sign off in a cordial manner and hold your head high knowing you just provided an example of proper communication skills that are quite rare online. You may even be surprised when the very same Netizen sends you a thank you e-mail!
- In my over 20 years of online experience I’ve realized that there are those that do not want to communicate with courtesy and knowledge. No matter how clear, nice, kind or patient you may be. If you are in a forum or hang-out where those who disregard common courtesies is accepted, find another group or forum that appreciates those efforts – there are more out there than not.
So don’t let worrying about losing that “lead” or “friend” have you lower your standards in regard to how you want to be treated or how you in turn communicate back – if at all. As long as you are doing your best to be a thoughtful Netizen, move on and choose to only communicate with those who do so with respect and courtesy.