Be Kind. Don’t Flame.

July 6th, 2010

Have you ever found yourself responding to an email in anger?¬† I know sometimes I’m tempted to send off a little terse response. But with email it’s tough enough to communicate an approachable tone even on a good day, that a little terse-ness, even sarcasm, can make you sound like a total jerk. So think before you click send…save a draft, go get a cup of coffee, walk around, and imagine that tomorrow morning someone has taped your e-mail outside your door. Would your associates and friends be shocked by your language or attitude?

Or would they be impressed by how you kept your cool, how you ignored the bait when your correspondent stooped to personal attacks, and how you carefully explained your position (or admitted your error, or asked for a reconsideration, etc.).

Don’t pour gasoline on a fire without carefully weighing the consequences. It’s a small world you may have to work with the person again and again. Do you want a copy of your bitter screed to surface years from now, when you want a letter of recommendation or you’re up for promotion?

Do this instead:

  • Go ahead and write it — make it snarky, biting, and vicious
  • Then revise it — liven it up with traditional Lithuanian¬† curses or translate it to Vulcan if that’s your preference
  • Then print it out, throw darts at it, and scribble on it with crayon, take the paper cutter to it
  • Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel better and get it out of your system. Just don’t hit “Send” while you’re still angry.