The Art Of Being Rude In EmailBy BenOni | July 8, 2023
You know the feeling. You’re minding your own business, scrolling through your inbox when you see it: an email from your boss, or a client, or maybe even your mother-in-law. And it’s not just any email. Oh no. It’s one of those emails. The kind that makes your blood boil and your heart race. The kind that makes you want to reach through the screen and throttle the person who wrote it.
We’ve all been there. But what can you do when you’re the recipient of an inflammatory email? How do you respond without getting yourself into hot water?
Here are a few tips:
Don’t hit “reply all.”
This is a rookie move, and it will only make the situation worse. Not only will the person who wrote the original email know that you’re upset, but so will everyone else on the cc list. If you must respond, do so privately.
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Keep your cool.
It’s tempting to fire off a scathing reply as soon as you read an offensive email, but trust me, it’s not worth it. Take a few deep breaths and wait at least an hour before hitting “send.” This will give you time to calm down and collect your thoughts.
Even if the person who wrote the email was anything but, you need to maintain a professional demeanor. This means using a calm, even tone and avoiding any name-calling or profanity.
The longer your response, the more likely it is to escalate the situation. Keep your reply short and to the point.
Focus on the issue, not the person.
When you’re responding to an inflammatory email, it’s important to stay focused on the issue at hand. Don’t get sidetracked by personal attacks or other distractions.
Avoid “you” statements.
Using “you” statements is a surefire way to put the other person on the defensive. For example, “You’re wrong” or “You’re being unreasonable.” Instead, try to use “I” statements, such as “I disagree” or “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Use “I” statements.
In addition to avoiding “you” statements, using “I” statements can help diffuses a tense situation. For example, “I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying” or “I’m not sure I agree with you.”
Be assertive, not aggressive.
It’s important to be assertive when responding to an inflammatory email. This means clearly stating your position without being overly aggressive. For example, “I disagree with your assessment” or “I think you may be misunderstanding the situation.”
Sarcasm is often lost in translation, so it’s best to avoid it altogether. If you must use sarcasm, be sure to use emoticons or other cues to make it clear that you’re being sarcastic.
Use caution with humor.
Like sarcasm, humor is often lost in translation, so use it sparingly. And when in doubt, err on the side of caution.
Following these tips will help you navigate the minefield that is email etiquette. But even if you do everything right, there’s always a chance that the other person will respond in a way that makes the situation worse. If that happens, the best thing you can do is walk away from the computer and take a break. Sometimes the best response to an inflammatory email is no response at all.