Business E-mail Replies: Take Time to Cool Off

| Saturday, March 27, 2010
Misunderstandings abound in e-mail. Many times simply due to one side not taking the time to ensure that their message and intent is clear, while the other side reads into the e-mail things that may not be there.
In my experience, when it comes to business, there will be those who assume they can whip off an e-mail in the midst of their frustration or aggravation thereby coming off as way more terse or demanding than the situation calls for. This does in fact have a negative impact relationship building potential.
That is why it is always so important (for both sides) if you get an e-mail that has a tone that gets your feathers ruffled to follow these two simple steps:
  1. First, take the words at face value and don’t assume anything. If you are not sure of intent or the tone relayed, pick up the phone and or e-mail for clarification before you spend the energy being upset and snapping back with an emotional response.
  2. Second, take a deep breath. If you are unsure as to whether the other side is purposefully trying to be upsetting or rude, wait until the next day to reply. And when you do, read your response out loud to double-check that the tone of your response apropos.
In business, we do not have the luxury of ignoring rude e-mailers as we do in our personal lives. However, that doesn’t mean that you have cater to rude e-mailers either. Just leave those who can only communicate by being nasty wallowing while they wait for a response from you that may be in a cool but professional tone. Always, always take the high ground.
A great majority of misunderstandings are because one side (contacts, associates, coworkers) didn’t realize how the words they chose and how they chose to use them (formatting, bolding, red text, caps, etc.) may be taken. Even customers assuming they can type as they please simply because they are the customer.
Regardless of which side of the screen you are on, professionalism and courtesy combined with clarity will rule the day!

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