Ask Aly: How to Keep Your Cool with Angry Emails

How do you handle rude emails?

So you’ve hastily composed a response to an ugly e-mail you received. And what happens if you hit that Send button? The bad news is you could be setting in motion a whole line of possible problems and potentially disastrous consequences. The good news is there are a few easy tips you can take to prevent this domino effect from occurring next time you get an email that sets you off.

1. Have a No Immediate Reply Rule

Make a point of not routinely responding to any emails without thinking about what you want to say. That’s one of the biggest mistakes people make, even when sending positive emails. Read the email once then close it. Think about the email you want to write for at least ten minutes or more before writing back. That should give your emotions a chance to calm down and your head to come up with the best way to word the reply.To make it easier on you, make a schedule of checking your email at the top of the hour and replying to your email at the 30 minute mark. That way you always have a chance to calm down before writing back.

2. Ask for Someone Else’s Eyes

With email, all we have to go by are words. That’s unfortunate because we pick up a great deal about a speaker’s meaning just from the tone of their voice and their non-verbal communication. As a result, our interpretation of a message may be off the mark. What might be a joke could be seen as an insult. To reduce that risk, consider having someone else read the email and give you their opinion, too.You should also ask the same person to read your response to make you don’t say anything off-the-mark either.

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3. Write out Your Comments Elsewhere First

Another good habit that can save you from this type of problem is using another program to write your replies. Open up your word processing program and type up your message. Read through it. Make some changes. By the time you have finished, you will have cooled off and will still have time to make content alterations. If you’d been typing directly in the email program, you would have already pressed send and that would have been the end of it.

4. Respond by Phone

Most of us would say things in an email that we would never dream of saying over the phone or in person. If you have to respond to an email that upsets you, do so by phone and you’ll minimize the risk of burning any bridges unnecessarily. Plus, you’ll be able to discuss the meaning of the message so there are no misunderstandings either.

5. Count to Ten

When an email really makes you angry, the best thing to do is step back, take deep relaxing breaths, and count to ten. By the time you reach ten, you should have cooled off enough to know what type of rational action needs to be taken.

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