Firing off the wrong email in a fit of anger could cost you business.
By Hannah Massen
Every now and then a client, coworker, or even a friend will say something that rubs you the wrong way big time. We’ve all been there. And in the olden days, you would probably walk down the hall to have a quiet chat. Well, maybe more like a loud conversation, but you’d be less likely to throw too many verbal punches while looking someone straight in the eye. But this is 2022, and when something ticks you off, you might be tempted to start typing an email.
Whether your wording is blunt and curt, you add one-too-many passive-aggressive emojis, or you insert a swear word, the reader gets the message: you’re not happy. But within seconds of hitting send, you hear a whisper in the back of your mind, should I really have sent that email? You might attempt to recall the email, but once the reader has seen it, the damage has been done.
The best way to write an angry email is to never hit send. You’re less likely to be mindful of your language and tone when you’re sitting in front of a computer screen instead of an actual person, but according to an article published in Scientific American, an angry email can still be a serious blow to the recipient’s confidence. In a simulated work experiment, participants who received angry messages from their bosses experienced more negative emotions, found it harder to stay engaged in work tasks, and answered fewer questions correctly than the control group. And as for your clients, would you want to continue working with someone who spoke to you like that?
So before you hit send on your next angry email, try these three strategies instead.
1. Write the email but leave the “to” field blank.
Sometimes, you just need to rant. Go ahead and write an angry email while you’re still fired up (complete with, “IS THIS A JOKE??? CALL ME NOW,” in the subject line) – but remember to leave the “to” field blank. Having to enter a real email address once you’ve gotten everything out of your system will serve as another check before you hit send.
2. Wait and review.
If you’re on the fence about sending the email, save it as a draft and wait a full 24 hours before opening it again. Once you have a clear head, decide whether it’s too harsh or could be worth sending with a few toned-down tweaks.
3. Choose a different communication method.
There are times when you really should address your concerns. But instead of listing your grievances in an email, consider a different communication method. Having serious conversations face-to-face is always best, as you can make sure that you and the other person are in a distraction-free room and you are able to read their body language. Over the phone is fine, too, as long as you treat the call as you would an in-person meeting.