For example, without the emotional and facial cues a person uses when speaking, emails can come across as lifeless, blunt and curt. And when the rudeness is on purpose the effect is even worse. How many of us have experienced nasty emails? Not only do they tend to linger, but often cast a cloud over your day. What’s important is to evaluate the email calmly, and decide if the rudeness was intentional.
Should you feel so, there are ways to deal with it.
Let’s see how.
Don’t answer right away
Being offended by a rude email is natural; and perhaps lashing back too. But often it’s best to wait a while before you answer. Get some perspective, let your anger cool, and try not to dwell on it.
This should help you come up with a civil response. Chances are the sender was also a bit hasty and will return with an apology even before you mention it. It will also help you to get your ducks in a row should blame be directed at you, and you need to check your facts first in case you might be in the wrong.
Of course, there’s never a right time for rudeness, but being sure of your case will prevent it from getting worse.
Create a standard answer template
Getting into the details of why an email offended you can sap your energy. Save yourself time and aggravation by replying with a pre-prepared template that informs the sender of his rudeness, and that you will only consider more nicely phrased letters. Here’s an example:
I'm open to hearing what people have to say, unless they take a malicious approach to conversation. I felt your previous email applies to this, and if you'd like to try again with a nicer approach, I'd be happy to have a conversation with you.
This should give the person pause, and perhaps even draw out on an apology. At the very least, this avoids getting into an unproductive slugging match of trading insults.
Should it draw out no response, let the dust settle for a while. Then perhaps follow up with another message, kindly reminding them that you are still open for discussion.
What is important to note is that a template such as this might not always be appropriate given the situation, culture or person it is aimed at – and might be seen as a rude email in its own right! Use prudence before deciding to send it, and remember that the key is to distance yourself with an impersonal – if polite – writing tone. Which leads us to the next point…
Kill them with kindness
Sometimes, simple politeness can deflate the abuse coming your way, even if you don’t feel like being nice. First, make an effort to understand their grievance and acknowledge it. Better yet, try to solve it, and if you can’t, explain why you can’t. The voice of reason goes a long way in making the sender of a rude mail aware how they’re stepping over the line.
If the abuse continues, you might have a real problem on your hands. But before escalating it, take a step back, or step out completely. The next point explains how.
Get a cool-headed friend to respond
The problem with directed, written communication is that it’s difficult not to take personally. Distance yourself by getting an outside opinion, as well as a response.
Of course, the trick is to be fair and even-handed – as you will have to outline the situation to a third party, who is not involved in the situation. Ask them to write a response that’s impartial, then tweak it if needed and send it off. This could also help you gain perspective on the situation and set you on the road to resolving it.
When words fail
Make peace with the fact that there will always be rude people. And that we all have bad days. Based on the instance you’re facing, decide if wasting energy on an abusive person is worth it. Make sure you’ve done your best to solve the situation, but should there be no developments, move on and get on to other things. If you feel stressed by the mail, take a breather, or set your mind somewhere else. Best is then just to forget it.
After all, nicer people deserve your attention too.