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Tips for Responding to Angry Email at Work

written by: Aunindita•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 10/6/2010

Have you been sent an angry email? How do you respond? Here are tips on how to respond to angry emails. We cover how to deal with angry email from bosses, co-workers, clients, family members and friends.

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    angry man Understanding how to respond to angry email has become a necessity with the ever-increasing reliance on the Internet for communication.

    Unfortunately, the ease and speed at which you can send email has led many people to forget at times that they are talking to a real human being. They wind up writing things that they would never say to someone in person.

    From the first time you get your own email address and give it out to other people, you open yourself up to these kinds of emails. Here are a few tips on how to deal with them.

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    How to Respond to Angry Email from Your Boss or a Co-worker

    First–before you answer an angry email from anyone–you should take a moment and practice a few anger management techniques, such as counting to 10 and slow, deep breathing.

    It is better to wait rather than reply to an angry email right away. Next, read the email carefully and see if your boss or co-worker made any valid points. If it is something that you can fix, do so as soon as possible. When writing back, mention where they were right and what you have done to resolve things.

    Apologize if it applies to the situation. In dealings with your boss, you should leave it there or–if the issue is serious–schedule a face-to-face meeting.

    If you are responding to a co-worker, you may want to take the time to point out where they may have been wrong and tell them your side of the story. Always keep copies of all of the emails and if the situation escalates, involve a supervisor or an objective third party to help resolve things.

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    How to Respond to Angry Email from a Client

    client Clients can become angry for a variety of reasons, and especially when they think they have been treated unfairly. If you get an angry email from a client, there are a few things that you should do. First, look over the client’s email to identify the problem and see what you can do to solve it. Once you have taken steps to resolve the situation, email your client back and tell them what you have done. Keep the language as neutral as possible. If the client continues to have a problem, put them in touch with someone else who can help them. For clients who are very abusive, tell them what you have done to fix their problem and to contact your supervisor if they are not satisfied. If you have the authority, you may want to tell the client that you will no longer do business with them if they remain abusive in their correspondence. Remember to keep copies of every email you send and receive in this type of situation.

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    How to Respond to Angry Email from a Family Member or Close Friend

    family Dealing with angry emails from friends and family can be difficult. There are so many different emotions involved. Before you respond, take the time to think things over and look at them from the other person’s perspective and do not just dismiss their feelings. It is likely that there is some fault on both sides. Once you have looked over the email and identified the issues, take steps to fix what you can. Then, start out positive and tell them what you have done to fix the situation. After that, gently point out their mistakes and tell them your side of the situation. Remember that even if they were wrong, you should not try to make them feel stupid or guilty. If possible, you should meet this family member or friend in person to discuss the issue and help maintain your relationship. It is all too easy to misunderstand what someone has written because can be difficult to convey a certain tone of voice in an email.

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    Final Note

    Remember to practice anger management techniques and really think before you reply to an angry email. Finally, after you make your own email address take the time to learn “netiquette"–including how to respond to angry email–to try and prevent problems from occurring.

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