Let’s talk about that nasty work email that often destroys our day.
Here’s an all too familiar scene:
You are browsing thru your work email when you read a co-worker’s email to you. The email contained a complaint about you (or your work or your team). The email copied people that never needed to be copied. It even had your boss there. It also felt like the email was written with some malice. The email wasn’t meant to help you. It was meant to put you down.
Ever experienced that email? I bet you have. And if you are like me, you are probably irritated already right now just remembering that email or the person who sent you that email.
At this point, you have two choices, don’t respond to the email (and look like you’ve chickened out of a fight) or fight back with an even nastier email (and look like a war-monger). You lose either way. That’s why it’s a nasty email – it’s meant to make you lose.
Pause. Take a deep breath. Take three deep breaths before reading further. I assure you that there is a great solution how to handle this. But I need you to relax first so you are primed to learn.
Take three more deep breaths. Ready?
The confident and collaborative answer
Respond with this short email:
“Hi [person], I will call you to clarify this at around [time today]. Thank you.”
Or if your colleague happens to be physically located near you, say the even stronger response of:
“Hi [person], I will walk over to discuss this with you at around [time today]. Thank you.”
Why is this powerful? Because it shows you are not afraid of confrontation while showing you are willing to collaborate. Also, by specifying a time, you give yourself sufficient time to understand what’s really happening and more importantly, give yourself time to calm down before talking to the person.
Simple but powerful.
One more thing
The process does not end there. After you talk to the person 1-1, you close the loop by replying once again to the email and summarizing your discussion so that everyone who was initially copied will also be aware of the agreements.
If you do this as a habit, people who write you nasty emails will either become your friend or stop writing you nasty emails. Because nobody wants to mess with a person who is confident and collaborative.