When a jaw-droppingly rude email arrives in your inbox, follow these steps:
1. Draft the email you wish you could send. Then file it away and revisit in a day or so. Your first instinct may be to say something you’ll later regret.
2. Start with, “Thank you.” Even if the other person is off-base, begin by thanking her for contacting you and offering feedback. You’ll defuse the tension. It also protects your reputation, should the other person forward your email.
3. Volunteer to get on the phone. By email, outline the facts that support your point of view. If it’s a more personal matter, though, offer to phone her, so you can have a more productive conversation.
4. Call her out. When someone crosses every line in the book—calling you names, making untrue accusations—let her know that the behavior isn’t appropriate. Tell her that in future conversations, you’d appreciate it if she could keep her tone professional.
— Adapted from “How to Respond to a Rude E-mail,” Alexandra Levit, Intuit’s Quickbase blog.