You know how sometimes a friend or work colleague can send an email that seems completely and utterly insensitive?
At the time all you want to do is hire a gang of angry mums to tell them off in the sternest way possible… or fire off a really angry reply telling them to stop being such a moron.
This is often the worst thing to do and leaves everyone feeling angry.
The fact is people very rarely set out to deliberately offend. The problem is these days we have so many different ways of communicating that it’s inevitable that some of us will be better at using some methods than others.
A good friend of mine is TERRIBLE on email.
He never starts with a “Hello”, or “Hi” or any kind of greeting. He usually just bluntly asks for something with no P’s or Q’s. It used to make me simmer with rage.
“HOW DARE YOU! You might be my best friend but I refuse to tolerate your request to borrow my cordless drill unless you address me in the proper way, with full stately decorum. And perhaps a curtsy.”
I bet we’ve all had similar experiences. Emails from colleagues, friends, customers even, that come across as passive aggressive… abrupt… thoughtless. Yet when you speak to this person face to face they’re kind, friendly and perfectly reasonable.
Some mediums simply translate differently for different people. Though it’s easy to get annoyed with the person on the other end, there’s little merit getting worked up about it when more often than not they’re clueless about how they’re coming across.
In my case I’m RUBBISH on the phone. I get very confused when words are blasted at me and I can’t see the recipient’s face. In fact I get a sort of stage fright and probably come across like a bumbling serial killer.
So where’s the trick here? How do you take a step back from these situations?
Next time an email gets your back up write out a reply that’s gets out all your annoyance – BUT don’t address it to anyone.
Then leave it a few hours, a day even. Now send this email to yourself. It might sounds like a strange thing to do but it really puts a new sense of perspective on the situation.
You’d be amazed at how foreign and baffling those words of anger look when you read them back to yourself through your own inbox. It gives you a genuine glimpse of what the recipient might feel if they were to read it.
Then you’re left with 2 very positive options. 1) delete the email (because it was just negative tripe that you needed to get out of your system) or 2) rewrite the email from scratch now you’ve had time to mull over the situation. You’re likely to pen a much more measured response – and may find it has a more desirable effect.