Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Never Respond to Written Attacks (Emails, etc.) When You're Angry!

One of the hardest things in the world, especially when you’re young, is to write an email or memorandum when you are ready to tear someone’s head off! When you’re working with The Black Factor, you have to be mindful of the stereotypes associated with African Americans and work against those perceptions.

Don’t give people any ammunition to call you angry, defensive, hostile, pissed, irate, hypersensitive or confrontational. Find ways to present your case in clear yet non-emotional language. I’ve been in this situation many times, so trust my advice. When it comes to responding to emails and memos, when you’re angry:

-- Read and walk away. If you’ve received something in writing that upsets you or angers you, read it, walk away, and then come back and read it again. If you are dealing with negative written communication, it's important to take a deep breath and do something else for a few minutes. After some time has passed, revisit the written documentation and decide if your initial impression of the correspondence was correct.

-- Talk to a trusted coworker or friend. When you get upset at work, talk to a coworker or friend, even someone who doesn’t work at the company. It’s best to speak to someone with more experience than yourself, who may have been involved in similar situations and is able to give you perspective on what has happened and how you should respond--if at all.

If you don’t have a more senior coworker or friend to speak to, at the very least talk to someone with values, a work ethic, and a level of professionalism that are similar to your own. This way, you know you can trust their opinion and advice. Let them read your email. See if they think you’re overreacting or if you really have an issue you should address. Remember, you are looking for an objective opinion, but, ultimately, you have to trust your own instincts. Your friend or coworker may not know the person you’re discussing as well as you do or may not understand the dynamics of your office. If after talking it over, you feel you need to respond, you should be professional, direct, and respond promptly.

-- If you are responding to email, prepare your response in another software format, like Microsoft Word. When you receive an email that angers you, don’t hit the “reply” button and then compose your email response. You may accidentally send the message before you are ready to do so. Instead, compose your response in another program and cut and paste it into the email when you are ready to send it.

--Always assume someone else may be blind-copied on an email. This is why you should develop the habit of clicking on the “Rely to All,” when responding to email. This is also why you should always retain the highest level of professionalism--at all times! Don’t lash out and don’t respond with the first feelings that come to mind. Take your time thinking of what you want to say, what information you need to include, and what tone is appropriate for your response.

-- Highlight the areas of question or concern. When you’re mad, you may tend to respond with emotions. Try to avoid this behavior and stick with facts. Try to be very specific about any issues. You can identify exact quotes or language that support your claims and you can address how this impacts your work or reputation or job security.

--If someone is making blanket statements and vague negative claims about your behavior or work, don't automatically attack them--ask for specific examples. Surely, if what they are saying is true, they should be able to provide you with examples of what you are doing that is negative/unprofessional or incorrect. If they made the claims in writing, they shouldn't have any problem listing specifics in writing. You want them to write down any false claims so you can have documentation, from their own hand, about what they perceive as wrong. If they lie, that's on them. Make them commit the lies in writing, so they can't later say they never made certain accusations.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read that blog. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more soon.

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was very helpful to me, I am having this kind of problem with a board member. I would like to know how to keep the behaviour from recurring, or what to do if it does. This is a volunteer group, so firing the person is not an option.

4:46 PM  

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