Got a rude email?

By Mel Sim

Here’s how to deal with it.

We are all bound to get this email at least once in our career – a rude email either by a colleague or a client, complaining about something you did (or didn’t) and forwarded for the rest of the world to see.

Sighs…. It’s one of those emails that hits you in the gut, making you wonder if you are doing things right or not. It’s also one of those emails that makes your blood boil and makes you want to use all sorts of nasty words.

But before you put all those feelings in black and white, and risk it being a disciplinary action against you, do this first: Take a deep breath. Walk away from your laptop, take a break and then come back to that email with the following in mind.

#1 Rude emails could be a way for the other person to take their stress out on you
Many times, the person writing that email could be undergoing a lot of stress and pressure whether from work or their personal life. And writing that rude email is a way to vent their frustration. Unless it is an issue you had something to do with, don’t take it personally.

#2 Read the email again
But before you move on, you need to respond. And to respond in the best possible way, you need to read that email again – objectively. Which means take your emotions out and try to read it with an open mind. Perhaps there could be some truth in there and maybe you did do something wrong. Or perhaps it is really just an email where the other person simply wants to complain and have someone else listen to them rant.

#3 Decide what your response is.
Know this first – sometimes you may not even need to respond! You don’t need to click reply for every email you get. And especially if it is an email from a client making a complaint. In cases like this, it’s best to go to your boss and talk about the email first so the two of you can craft the most reasonable response together.

If you do decide to respond, do this:

  • Keep your tone professional. If it helps, smile while you are composing a reply. That can make you feel less angry and calm when writing a reply. There’s no need to reply rudeness with rudeness; this will just escalate the matter into something you really don’t want to deal with.

  • Copy your boss. If it is your colleague accusing you of something, copy your boss so you can cover you’re a** if you’re not in the wrong. Keep your boss in the loop so there’s someone who is the objective party in this email exchange. If it is with a client, make sure you’ve OK-ed the reply with your boss and then make sure to copy him in the reply.

  • Provide a solution. A lot of rude emails can come from the sender feeling like something has not been done according to her expectations. If this is the case, propose a solution to their grievance. Doing this can help solve that frustration and maybe even make the sender feel a little bit guilty for stepping over the professional line.

  • End it with a thank you. Even if it is something you don’t feel like saying, do it. A polite sign off will put you in better light and may make the rude email sender see how unprofessional she was.

Received a rude email? Tell us how you responded by tweeting us @graduan

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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