How to handle difficult emails

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When working in a busy environment, you are always going to receive difficult emails that you don’t want to have to deal with. When you are in this type of situation, the way you handle your response is important to maintain your professional image and the respect you receive in the workplace.

As much as you might be tempted to respond to a rude email with a blast of what you would really like to say, it’s important to follow these steps to ensure you don’t make the situation any bigger than it needs to be.

To start with, I would recommend taking a deep breath and try to disconnect from the situation. Maybe go for a walk or go to an area where you can relax and gather your thoughts. As easy as it is to write something back and give the person a piece of your mind, the best solution would be to wait until you are calmer and you can handle the situation better.

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If possible, sleep on it, and don’t respond to it on the day it has been sent to you. If you think that you might struggle to respond back to the email, take the time to sit down with a work colleague or mentor and work on the best response possible.

Also, remember that your email might be viewed by people who are in higher positions, so always remember to respond in a way that is professional. Take time out before you send your responding email. Consider if your response is something that you would want HR to have sitting in your personal file.

If possible, try to speak to the person over the phone or speak in person. What people forget is that the sender may have some personal issues happening in their lives and their reason for being short or rude in their email to you has nothing to do with you at all. I have also met people who always come across that way in their emails, but in person, they are the best people you could possibly meet. So maybe the person might need some training on how to write an effective email?

Sometimes you are going to find that you are never going to reach a resolution to unfavorable emails, so sometimes it’s best to just let it go and move on.

One thing to remember is to remove it from your inbox and put it somewhere for safe keeping. If you continue to receive these types of emails from the same person, it could be a sign of bullying and it’s always good to have an evidence trail documenting what has happened and how you have handled the situation. It will play a big part in how the situation will be viewed by other deciding parties.

One of the best things to do is to learn from the bad emails you receive and think about how you feel when you receive them. Always remember that work emails are different from text messages and failing to add a greeting or a polite sign off to an email could be seen as dismissive or rude. Also, remember to use manners like please and thank you and always treat people the way you like to be treated.

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