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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.


Join The Conversation
austerity austerity 9 years
I agree with GlowingMoon. E-mail has a non-confrontational approach and that can work...but it can also be misused by passive-aggressive, cowardly people who take advantage of the fact that e-mail doesn't need you to face that person physically, and the person you're dishing out against is not given a chance to shut you up in the face. As you can tell, I don't support the idea of e-mail confrontations, but I have a good reason. I have had a very bad experience with someone who wouldn't dare say anything to my face and played fair weather in front of others, but in the meanwhile, dished out the most vicious and nasty e-mails to me. When I tried to talk to this person, they said 'I prefer e-mail' like some sort of robot. Cowardly, imho. This person lacked the self-control and constructive attitude to face me in person...most of all, I believe they knew they were talking a load of crap and that's why they couldn't say it to my face. Whew, good to get that off my chest.
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 9 years
i like the idea of email its worked for me previously
skigurl skigurl 9 years
i'm not very confrontational so i like this idea, but the thing i've noticed is that you expect an email back ASAP and you end up sitting around waiting for a detailed response, when you may not get one. so make sure you end it ASKING for a response or inviting the person to call. it also may help to explain why you're emailing versus calling or talking honest: "i feel uncomfortable about the situation and i wanted to make sure i was able to tell you about how i really feel before we discuss it" or something like that
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
yea...even calling the person is betetr then e-amil.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
Truthfully, speaking only for myself, when it comes to conflict, direct conversation is the best way to approach it. E-mail or written correspondence is ineffective, and the other person would take me less seriously. That's been my experience.
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