How to Handle Tense Email Communication

Email communication is one of the greatest professional challenges of the 21st century.  The more we rely on digital correspondence, the less intuitive our messages become.  It’s difficult to discern tone from a boss’ or co-worker’s email.  But it’s easy to get upset.  Sometimes, you get upset enough to fire off a nasty response that ignites an email throw down.

This is bad for a few reasons.  One, there’s a paper trail.  Whether you said anything inappropriate or not, it’s all on record.  Your retorts can easily be forwarded to HR or the higher ups.  Two, there’s a reckoning for all those email fights.  You’ll have to face the person at some point, and it’s going to be uncomfortable.  And three, it’s a waste of your time.  All the squabbling back and forth isn’t accomplishing anything.  It’s likely the problem you wanted to address is still unsolved.

The next time you find yourself in a tense email exchange, take a deep breath and practice some diplomacy.