What I Heard: “Snappy Email”

People who LOVE to be right also typically look for a fight, they just don’t realize it.

Scenario:  First thing in the morning and I’m listening to someone vent about an email they received.  Apparently the email suggested that something hadn’t been done and the reader was offended.  To her credit, I wasn’t reading the message or its tone, all that I know was that she wasn’t happy.  She proceeded to make sure that she was right about the issue at hand and then clarified with a co-worker by saying “Look at this.  Am I right?  I just want to be sure that I’m right before I send off my snappy email!”

As the conversation continued they planned out the best way to word the biting email, even including a screenshot to validate the receiver’s error.

Conversation:  “You should include a picture just so he can see it”

“Yeah, yeah, I should.  That’s what I’m going to do”.    And send.

Clearly this was a lot of energy expended to prove that she hadn’t been wrong but even more energy expended in doing something wrong.  I’m not perfect.  I’ve been there.  Typing 95 wpm with few errors (that’s how I roll), making sure that my words had the greatest amount of intended sarcasm.  I’ve been guilty of it.  As I’ve moved up the food chain my email exchanges have been more consistently with upper management or clients so those tactics would be career suicide.  I also am in a position of NEEDING other people to get to my endgame and I’ve learned that you get more bees with honey and more stings by swatting (I’ve got to move back to NYC, I’m sounding more and more southern each day).

Here are a few tips before you click the send button for that “snappy email”:

1. Don’t HIT SEND. If ever you’re going to exercise patience, now is the time.  Wait five minutes.  If you’ve heard it before, I assure you it works.

2. You’ve waited five minutes and still FEEL the same.  You need another five minutes.

3.  Now that 10 minutes have passed, use your thesaurus.  Any words that could be viewed as negative (you know the ones) should be reviewed for a less stinging substitution.

4.  Remember you’re not wearing a black robe and you don’t have a gavel.  Replace as many “you” comments with ownership statements.

Instead of “you missed the deadline for the client and the project will be in jeopardy” try “I’m concerned about the state of the project since we are missing critical deadlines”–share the responsiblity and then clarify on what is being missed, they will know exactly what their role in this was.

5.  Reaction is not based on relationship.  The way that you respond to your colleagues should be professional and respectful, regardless of their position.  The CEO is a human being and so is the Purchasing Agent.

6.  Read the email as though it were being sent to you.

7.  Be honest about your emotions.  I heard the person above say that they were tired and this wasn’t a good morning (we were 15 minutes into the day).   If you’re not 100% or woke up on the wrong side of the bed, save the draft and come back to it in the afternoon.

8.  Take off your boxing gloves.  When we are or feel slighted the immediate reaction is to fight, sometimes flight is the better option.

9.  Don’t engage others in your mission.  We all love to share when we’re having a snappy moment and for the most part they will engage for a number of reasons.  If you’re going to speak to someone to get their perspective find the person that you KNOW is typically positive not the one that will champion your snark mission.

10.  Ask yourself if this email is worth your job.  In most companies, nasty retorts aren’t acceptable professional behavior (yes, I know management can be the most guilty party but let’s focus on us).  Would you be comfortable if that email was forwarded to your manager?  If you would that requires another post about professional behavior and I’ll have to catch up with you at another time!

Thanks for reading.  I’m begging forgiveness for a post pending about my reaction to something very similar.  Coming soon!


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