The Dangers of E-Mail, Part 1: The Angry E-Mail Effect

You open your inbox, and there it is … an e-mail, waiting patiently for you to read it and respond. A few seconds, a few quick keystrokes on your laptop, a click of the send button, and your response is shuttled instantaneously to its recipient.

It’s quick and easy.

But therein lies a hidden danger …

The ability to respond quickly and easily via e-mail can land you in scalding water.

For one thing, it takes the thinking out of your response. You can “blurt out” anything in just a few seconds. Click send before you’ve had a chance to reconsider … and your words are going to be delivered, whether you like it or not.

This can be a big problem when you respond in anger. Take “Glen,” for example. A top-level executive at ETR sent him an e-mail that didn’t make Glen happy, and Glen shot off an angry reply … full of curse words, overblown accusations, and defiant remarks.

Can you recover from mouthing off like that to your superiors? Possibly. But I wouldn’t want to try it.

Instead, think long and hard about your response before you send it. If you’re angry or upset, give it at least 24 hours. If you must put your feelings in writing immediately, do so in a blank e-mail or, better yet, in a Word document. (That way, there will be no chance that you’ll accidentally send it.) Once you’ve cooled down, write a new response. You’ll probably find that you’re able to explain how you feel in a calmer, more rational way.

[Ed. Note: Have you ever sent an angry e-mail … and regretted it? Let us know right here.] (To protect everyone’s identity, please use initials or pseudonyms!)]

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