Twitter fights break out routinely, involving politicians, entertainers, athletes, and everyday people. When Twitter fights happen, they make headlines because the drama is just too powerful to ignore. It’s part of the sad but all-too-real truth that’s part-and-parcel of news organizations’ practices. “If it bleeds, it leads,” is the old newsroom guideline and there’s little else more entertaining than to watch two people engage in a battle of wits so publicly. The same happens all the time in business and it comes in a different form of communication — angry, emotional email.
Why We Receive Angry, Emotional Email
There you are, quietly going about your business when you receive an angry, emotional email. You’re already dealing with being overwhelmed and now this potential hornet’s nest drops into your lap. It’s worded in such a way it can’t be ignored and strikes the right nerve. You read it again, thinking perhaps there is something you’ve missed. But alas, it is angry, it is emotional, and what’s worse, it’s completely unexpected.
The world would be a wonderful place if our inboxes were just constantly overflowing with compliments, praise, and free coffee coupons. But, unfortunately, there’s a big difference between fantasy and reality. Instead, you have to deal with junk email, deadlines, and endless questions. And, if that wasn’t already enough to have you heaving an exasperated sigh, you also need to handle the occasional angry email. Whether it’s from a coworker, client, or your boss, being on the receiving end of a scathing message is never fun. And, it can be difficult to know exactly how to react. —Zip Recruiter.com
Well that explains why most people receive angry, emotional email. It’s not complicated. The sender is emotional, frustrated, and irate, not taking time to calm down. The passion of the moment takes over and you are the unfortunate recipient of his or her hostility. Although it breaks one of the most basic business protocols, which is not to act on a compunctual whim, he or she did it and now it’s up to you to deal with it professionally.
How to Deal with Angry, Emotional Email
So you’ve received an angry, emotional email and you’re upset. It’s unfair, inaccurate assertions and accusations are causing your blood to boil. You’d like to immediately fire back a zinger of a reply but you realize that will only exasperate the situation. Like dealing with bad online reviews, you need to be diplomatic. Here are a few helpful tips for how to deal with angry, emotional email at work:
- Take a step back and breathe. Let’s start with the obvious — take a few minutes time out, step back, and just breathe. Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale out of your mouth, just like you know to do. This will allow you some time to relax and entertain a new perspective.
- Give yourself some time to reflect. Now, take several minutes to consider what the sender is really trying to say. There’s a point somewhere, although it could well be confused and unclear. If it just doesn’t make sense at all, you’re probably best to leave it alone. However, if there’s a possibility of fostering a constructive dialogue, proceed to reply.
- Ask at least one question of the sender. Before you type or tap out a single word or even hit the reply button, think of at least one question to ask to help bridge the divide. Don’t preoccupy yourself with concocting a cleverly disguised wisecrack. Instead, come up with at least one good question.
- Write a draft reply but do not send it (yet). Next, it’s time to compose a draft. This should not be lengthy but, it should be concise and clear. Take some time to read it aloud and then just save it as a draft. Give yourself long enough to get past your initial shock, then read it out loud again. Reword it as necessary so it’s professional and free of sarcasm, anger, and other negative emotions.
- Include praise and invite further discussion. Wrap it up by including some praise and be sure to leave the door open to more discussion. Read it aloud once more, then send it, and wait patiently for a reply.
- Pick up the phone and call or take a walk. You could always use the tried and true approach of picking up the phone and calling or take a walk to their office or work area if they are nearby. If you do call or take a walk to visit, use the same recommended approaches above with your verbal communication.
How do you deal with angry, emotional email? What’s your solution for diffusing a potentially explosive situation? What tactics best serve you with these scenarios? Please share your thoughts and experiences!