What to Do When You Receive an Upsetting Email…

When you receive an email that’s critical, hostile, or just plain rude, it can ruin your whole day. Here’s how to keep your emotions in check and respond rationally and professionally.

First, take your time. You don’t need to reply immediately. Give yourself a pause to really analyze the message, calm down, and think clearly before you craft your response.

Then, before you say anything else, thank the sender for taking the time to communicate their message to you. Even if they used a negative tone, make sure yours is positive.

Explain your perspective without blame or bluster. Keep in mind that this is only the start of the conversation. There may be facts that your counterpart was unaware of. You can use their email as an opportunity to share where you’re coming from.

Next, clarify the core issue. Communicate where the disconnect happened between you and the sender and ask follow-up questions to better understand what needs to be resolved.

Finally, focus on solutions. Once you understand the problem at hand, concentrate your attention—and your reader’s—on the future, where positive change can occur.

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