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Six Things to Consider Before Writing an Angry Email

It's easy to get worked up at work. Sharing close quarters while juggling everyone's different communication style, temper, ego and the overall office hierarchy can create a ticking time bomb.

When you do get upset it's important to address your frustrations in the most professional manner possible so you don't regret anything you say later. If your instinct is to immediately sit down and write an email (whether to your co-worker, supervisor or boss) I suggest considering the following things first:

  1. Can you just talk it out? Confronting the issue verbally allows the person you are upset with to give you some sort of explanation for the behavior and the opportunity to defend his or her self.
  2. Is it worth it? Like mom always said, it is important to pick your battles. Sometimes I get really upset about a situation or someone's wording, but if I spend five minutes thinking about it I realize it's not the end of the world. Try the subtle route before you light the fireworks.

For some additional suggestions,

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  1. Keep it clean and appropriate. Standing up for yourself or expressing your frustration isn't always easy. If you write an email read it over and think about how you might feel if you received it. Watch your language and keep it professional. Don't use cuss words or euphemisms for cuss words. It is always better to be the bigger person.
  2. Are you off base? Sometimes words get exchanged and both parties are left in confusion. Verbalize your argument as observations and fact, not accusations. Consider the other person's intentions before you react.
  3. Emails are permanent. Emails can be forwarded to anyone in the company. They often come across as more harsh than a conversation and are a permanent record of your thoughts. Keep that in mind before you click "send."
  4. Should you speak to the boss or HR? If you feel a co-worker or boss isn't behaving appropriately talk to your boss or HR. Don't feel like you need to handle HR issues yourself. HR exists to support you and the company.

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Join The Conversation
insanitypepper insanitypepper 7 years
We have been told at work to never ever write anything critical of other employees in an email.
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 7 years
I *never* send angry emails. One good thing about my job is that we have 24 hours to respond to our emails. It gives us a cooling down period if we get a nasty email. I will try to call, or set up a face to face meeting. However - I'm not even a big fan of calling anymore because I had one parent say I yelled at her. I never even raised my voice. I told her that I wasn't backing down from an issue and she didn't like it.
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 7 years
I *never* send angry emails. One good thing about my job is that we have 24 hours to respond to our emails. It gives us a cooling down period if we get a nasty email. I will try to call, or set up a face to face meeting.However - I'm not even a big fan of calling anymore because I had one parent say I yelled at her. I never even raised my voice. I told her that I wasn't backing down from an issue and she didn't like it.
danzerdrea7 danzerdrea7 7 years
I need to vent before I approach a person, so I write the email in my gmail account and save it there for later. If I need to alter it after I confront the person and send it to them, I do, but this way no one at work has access to it, and I don't risk accidentally sending it.
valancyjane valancyjane 7 years
I wish some people in my office would read this; a few of them have a tendency to fire off e-mails with their first (angry) reaction and it's not productive. I think BlackBerries contribute to this. When you're at your desk you can take 5 minutes and breathe deeply; when you're on the road you tend to shoot from the hip and that can have some negative consequences.
bellaressa bellaressa 7 years
Great tips, thanks Savvy. I myself has never written an e-mail as such, I like to see people's reaction to situations.
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