Let’s imagine that you get an email that begins to rile you up a bit. Perhaps a client is asking for something unreasonable. Perhaps a client is expressing her dissatisfaction. Perhaps your client is offending you in some way. We experience fear or anger or hurt when there are perceived threats such as these. Unfortunately, our decision making skills are not as sharp when we are in a state of heightened emotions.
To avoid doing or saying something you may regret later, please watch for these warning signs before responding to a difficult email:
1. Your body immediately goes into fight or flight mode. Your jaw clenches. Your eyes narrow. Your body temperature rises quickly. Your muscles tighten. Your breath quickens.
Your body is made to respond this way to threats. It’s your body’s way of readying itself for battle. If you email a response while in this mode, you may just experience a real and unfortunate “battle” that could be avoided.
2. You’re pounding the keys extra hard as you compose your email. This is just another sign that your emotions are getting the best of you. Pound that email out if it makes you feel better … but don’t hit send. Take a deep breath, do something relaxing, step away from the computer. When you come back to the email, you will likely see the situation and your words with fresh eyes.
3. Your email grows to epic lengths. If you find yourself drafting paragraph after paragraph defending yourself, you may be over-emotionalizing your response. When a difficult client situation arises, it’s often best to be short, sweet, and firm. If you feel like your client needs more explanation, it may be a good idea to pick up the phone and speak with your client. You may even find that you misunderstood the tone and intent of the email.
Running your own business requires professionalism in all correspondence. While this seems like common sense, common sense may fly out the window during in the face of one heated email. Sleep on it. Seek help from a trusted friend. Pick up the phone when necessary. Become self-aware enough to recognize when you are not in the best frame of mind to handle a challenging situation with the utmost sensitivity and professionalism.