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The How-To Lounge: Confrontation Via Email

When a conflict develops between two people, most of the time a direct conversation is the appropriate solution. But sometimes, such a direct approach is just too hard. When it comes to interpersonal issues, any communication is better than none, even if it's through the impersonal Internet. So if you're someone who'd rather bury your head in the sand than verbalize your concerns, or if you think a less explicit talking-to is necessary, then check out my tips for communication via email and


  • Take advantage of the fact that you have the opportunity to think about what you want to say before you say it. Consider your words carefully, and make sure you're being clear.
  • Determine your real issues and be as concise as possible. Once you've figured out what you want to say, it's important to take your tone into account.
  • Remember in high school English how you learned all about writing essays and making points with evidence to back them up? Well, now you have another opportunity to put that to use. Don't just throw around accusations. If you're going to make a statement explicitly referencing someone's behavior, make sure you have an example — you only need one.
  • If possible, try to end your email on a positive note so that you can keep the lines of communication open. Ask the recipient for their feedback and sincerely invite them to comment on what you've written.
  • By all means, take the time to read over your email before sending it. Not only do you want to make sure that you're satisfied with what you've written, but it's best to avoid typos, too. And make sure you have the correct email address before you hit the send button!

One problem with an email is that the response can often take a significant amount of time, so remain patient and know that the ball is in their court.


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