- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

Beware the Emotional Email

21st September, 2020

Beware the Emotional Email

My teenage daughter came home from school the other day and thumped a copy of Romeo and Juliet down on the kitchen table.


‘Ah!’ I said. ‘The classic story of love and loss.


She snorted. ‘More like a tale of terrible communicators.’


(Clearly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)


‘I mean, the message didn’t reach Romeo about the fake death plot like it should have. And then Romeo didn’t even check to see if Juliet was really dead – he just has a knee-jerk reaction and goes and kills himself.


No-one needed to die if they’d all just been less emotional and communicated with each other better. Duh. Anyway, what’s for dinner? I’m starving.’


She has a point.


But old Romeo’s not the only impulsive one out there. And certainly not the only terrible communicator.


We’re all guilty of firing out emotional emails from time to time.


Steam coming out of our ears, knuckles white with anger, we’ve bashed out an email about something our recipient supposedly has or hasn’t done.


Before we know it, we’ve pulled the pin and lobbed our email hand grenade into the ether. And what comes next is always an ugly explosion of reciprocated upset, resentment or anger from your recipient.


Repeat after me:


Emotional or impulsive emails are never a good idea.


And they’re all too easy with email, where we can fire out our frustrations with just a couple of clicks.


Angry emails only beget angry or defensive emails. (How’s that for a bit of Shakespeare?)


Emails sent in a heightened emotional state can cost money, jobs or reputations. Don’t let that happen to you.


So, before you lob that grenade, always try to let the sun go down on your email.


Tell yourself that you can still send it if you want, but wait overnight or at least an hour or two before acting.


Think about your reader and how they might react. Will your email really help you get what you want in the longer term? Or are you just appeasing your inner child right now?


Chances are, you won’t feel like sending it once you’ve calmed down. If you still think it’s worth it in the morning, at least you’ll have a better grasp of the risks versus the rewards.


For never was there a story of more woe, than of an email sent when you’re emotional.


[Cue sound of Shakespeare turning in his grave]

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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