Tuesday, February 8, 2011

E-mail: Is the Person on the Other End an Idiot or Just Not You?

It has been a long time since I posted and I am so sorry.  The short story is I fell on Friday and sprained my ankle.  I am fine but will be sporting a (not so) fashionable ankle brace for a couple of weeks.

Now, on to my thoughts for today.  People seem to feel free to say things to people via e-mail that they wouldn't say in person (or in front of their boss or parents).  In addition, this usually follows a quickly fired off response to an e-mail they haven't fully read.

Here's my plea for the day...next time you have the urge to fire off that scathing e-mail, don't hit send.  Instead, walk away from the computer, grab a glass of water or walk around the office.  Then, go back and read the original e-mail.  Is there something you missed?  Is it possible there is another interpretation besides the person who sent it is a complete idiot?  Think of alternate possibilities.  If you are unclear of the meaning, reply with a question to delve further and try to find a common (and respectful) understanding. 

Why should you do this?  Besides the obvious because it is respectful and polite, think about the time and effort you put into developing a professional image.  One reactionary e-mail can do more damage than you know, even if you don't see it.  A little time now can save a lot of repair work to your reputation later. 

I know it is not easy and the reactions are often natural reactions.  Practice pressing send immediately after every e-mail.  If you develop the habit with e-mails that are easy, it will be a lot easier when you are faced with a more challenging situation.

Good luck and happy e-mailing!