Don’t bite the email bait!

It’s a beautiful morning and you’re scanning through your phone to catch up on work email. And there it is! A nasty gram..you re-read it and shake your head in disbelief. How could someone conjure up an email like that with a mixture of facts, half-truth and blatant lies? Your mind races as your fingers can’t wait to shoot out the response.

It used to be that we lived and died by the “sword” now it’s by our emails, posts and shares on social media — maybe less bloody but perhaps just as painful!

Mud-slinging is a part of corporate politics — the more the people in the email copy, the wider the reach. The sender’s objective could be to pass the buck, misrepresent facts to tarnish your reputation or lure you into the controversy. In rare cases, it could also be that the sender has a self-esteem issue and feels better about themselves by sending nasty grams.

Though your whole being wants to give the person a piece of your mind, the wisest choice is to pause and calm yourself down. Being impulsive only makes things worse for you as a professional. And that’s exactly what the sender wants!

Image courtesy of Unsplash

There are several ways you could respond

1. No reply. You’d be amazed at how controversies die down when no one fans the flames. It’s just a matter of time, it is forgotten.

2. Respond once you calm down. Your response is much more professional when you pen it at a later point of the day when you feel better.

3. Call for a meeting with the concerned persons. You can circulate the minutes of meeting after your meeting. For sensitive topics, it helps to circulate the draft minutes first so that all are in sync before you send out the final one.

4. For repeated nasty grams from the same sender, discuss the matter with your manager/HR. Chances are, other people may have the same problem with the sender. Your manager should be able to help you tackle the situation better.

5. Talk to the sender (Do not email!) and explain how you feel about their email. A face to face conversation or a video call helps clarify intent in a way, written communication never can.

For those who find yourself on the higher side of the impulsive index, creating a 5-min outlook delayed send rule could save the day. In this case, you get the pleasure of pressing “send” without ruining your career prospects. It is likely that after a few minutes after pressing “Send”, you will want to re-phrase your response or delete it.

Responding to a nastygram with another nastygram, doesn’t make you any better than the sender. In fact, it showcases your immaturity to potentially anyone who reads it. Trust me, your emails can be taken out of context and used against you. That’s why it pays to pause.

Next time you receive a nasty gram, get an ice-cream or a beer or take a walk. — whatever it takes to calm you down. Do yourself a favor and resist the urge to react. Practice makes perfect and you’ll be on your way to being a poised professional.

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