Recently, I had the lovely experience of having a couple of site visitors send accusatory emails to me. They did not take the time to read my entire response to their request for advice or the article they disagreed about.
I know this because when I pointed out what I had typed to the contrary, one inquirer apologized. The other, I never heard back from…
But at that point, they had sort of embarrassed themselves. Just because they reacted without reading (or thinking about what I had typed).
Sadly, so many are busy pushing their opinions that they genuinely have no interest in any other point of view. (More so now, with so many folks stressed out and spending too much time on social media.)
How can you ever expect to learn anything if this is your approach?
Why Many Come Here
It’s not uncommon for my site to be used as the “bad guy.” Someone out there uses [email protected] as a reference to point out to someone else what they are doing incorrectly.
I’m okay with that because, in most cases, when those folks contact me for clarification, it is because they genuinely want to understand. Then some want to shoot the messenger.
When something happens more than once in a short time frame, that becomes a post topic that hopefully will help others. Those who have the intellectual curiosity to know they don’t know everything. Those who are willing to learn new things that can positively enhance, in this case, their email communications.
Maybe sharing this with you will help you know better what to do when you are in a similar situation.
Read, Then Clarify if Unsure
In both cases, my email responses to these inquiries were unemotional, straightforward, and adequately down-edited. When you down-edit, which means you are responding point-by-point, you minimize the opportunity for misunderstandings.
The accusations were born because the other side was first distracted by the fact I did not agree with their approach or comment. Therefore once they saw that, they did not take the time to read my email in its entirety.
When you don’t take the time to read the emails you are responding to in their entirety, you risk making incorrect assumptions—and not making a positive impression.
In the cases that prompted this article, assumptions were made that were not in my response. Nor is anything written on this site. Lots of assuming going on.
Jumping to Conclusions
Not reading content in its entirety makes it easy to jump to conclusions. This causes you to risk appearing as though, simply because someone differs from you, even if ever so slightly, their point of view doesn’t matter. Not a good look.
You can’t then be upset when it is pointed out that you misinterpreted. No one is right all the time. To want to be is unrealistic.
And, no, saying, “I may not have read your email thoroughly but…” before you type your excuse for jumping to conclusions doesn’t make your claims valid or correct. You look as though you cannot pay attention to details or have narcissistic tendencies.
Don’t be an Accuser
What does it say about a person who whips off an accusatory email but doesn’t take the time to read the details about what they are complaining about? In these cases, I try to soften the perceived disagreement by asking a valid question. One that, if answered, tends to prove my point.
It is your responsibility to read communications completely before responding to them. You are also responsible for ensuring you are responding with the correct intent and tone.
Before you make accusations, be sure that what you are responding to is what the person intimated, said, or provided. If you are unsure what they mean, ask first.
Then, take them at their word.
Pause Before Responding
Take the time to consider if what you are typing is apropos and accurate to what was typed by the other side. If you are in a hurry and don’t have time to read previous emails before you reply to them in haste, then don’t reply.
Wait until you have the time to send an educated, measured response. Then, you’ll save face and have to eat a lot less humble pie.