Email and Emotions: Take Time to Cool Off

Email Etiquette and Emotions

Misunderstandings abound in email. I’ve done that myself. For example, you read an email to find the sender is either inappropriate or insulting. Or they neglected to read your previous response and make claims they otherwise probably wouldn’t have — if they had read your email.

Jumping to Conclusions?

It could be you’ve jumped to conclusions. Or it could be one side did not take the time to make sure that their message and intent are clear. This opens the door to read into the email things that are not there.

This is where relationships and assumptions come into play. I’ve typed about this before – a lot. You could type the same sarcastic message to a handful of people, and each will perceive your intent and tone because of the contrast in the type of relationships you have with each person and how well they know you.

Before Reacting…

That is why it is always so crucial if you get an email that upsets you to:

  • First, take words at their face value and do not assume anything. Second, if you are not sure of intent or the tone relayed, ask for clarification before you spend the energy being upset and snapping back with an emotional response. (Better yet, make a phone call for clarification before reacting off-the-cuff.)
  • Then, take a deep breath. Or two or three — as many as necessary. If you are sure, the other side is purposefully trying to upset you or be rude, wait until the next day, if at all, to reply. Many times rude and malicious emailers do not deserve a response. Just leave those who can only communicate by being nasty wallowing and waiting for a response from you that will never come.

The cause of many misunderstandings is one side not considering the repercussions of how the words they chose and how they chose to write them (formatting, bolding, red text, caps, etc.). However, sometimes by simply reading an email out loud, you’ll find your perception changes. So give that a try before flying off the handle.

The best rule of thumb is to take time to cool off. Typing out an emotional reply rarely solves anything. You may be surprised at the different point of view you will have when you review the email the next day to decide even if a response is necessary.

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