You may be tempted to unleash your fury in an email. After all, the format allows you to thoroughly cover your grievances—something that might not happen in the heat of the moment.
While email can allow you to avoid an awkward or heated in-person exchange, the format does little to resolve the conflict and move the relationship forward. Instead of lashing out on email, follow this advice:
• Don’t forget that you are addressing a person. When you’re hiding behind your computer screen, it is easy to write whatever you want because you don’t have to endure the other person’s confusion, anger or hurt feelings.
However, a quick message sent in anger can destroy a relationship. Always empathize with recipients. Think about why they did what they did and how they will feel once they read your words. Maybe they have a good reason. Or maybe they angered you unintentionally. Seeing the situation through their eyes may convince you to change your message.
• Avoid sarcasm. Many people can’t grasp sarcasm when it is spoken face to face, much less in writing. Recipients can misconstrue your justified anger as nothing more than a joke and not take your feelings seriously. Be direct and avoid passive-aggressive attacks.
• Write the message, but don’t send it. It’s good to vent, so write down everything you want to say without censoring yourself. Save the draft and come back to it when you have cooled down a bit. With a clear head, you can rewrite the message to be less hostile or decide it’s not worth sending. Or, as in most cases, you could determine that an in-person conversation is warranted to resolve the issue.
— Adapted from “The Cure for Nasty Emails,” Travis Bradberry, Inc., www.inc.com.