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

Irritated by your inbox? Try this hack

28th February, 2024

Irritated by your inbox? Try this hack

I read recently about a woman who was fed up with getting frustrated and angry on her commute.


So she decided to change her thinking whenever she was stuck behind a slow driver.


Instead of cursing her bad luck, she’d imagine the driver in front had an enormous, exquisitely decorated birthday cake on the back seat of their car.  


They were driving slowly because they wanted it to arrive safely for their Grandma’s 90th birthday celebration that afternoon.




By assuming the best intentions, all the woman’s anger and frustration melted away.


And we can do the same with our email.


Because, let’s face it, email can often drive us crazy.  (Studies show our heart rate and blood pressure increase when we’re in our inboxes).


But by thinking the best of people, we can not only lower our stress, we can also often get better results.  


Because an email is just a snapshot, not the full story.  We rarely have enough information to make a full judgment.


Our sender might be having a terrible day.  They might have English as a second language.  Be trying to manage pressure from above.  Or just think differently from us.


So if we’ve been sent an email that feels passive-aggressive or rude, let’s:


  • Assume the sender’s best intentions
  • Ask clarifying questions by email, or even better, by phone 
  • Get a second, objective, opinion 


We’re much more likely to get to a calmer, more constructive conclusion faster than if we’d fired off an emotional reply.


As the saying goes, people will like us if we like them first.  So let’s try it.

University of Cambridge


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

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