Thank goodness it’s Friday — if only your colleague hadn’t just ruined your day with that rudely-worded email.
Most of us are ready to fire back with our own retort and equal measure of nastiness or passive aggression. But, that’s almost always a bad move. From nasty emails to coping with bad days, LinkedIn Influencers weighed in this week with their own advice. Here is what two of them had to say.
Travis Bradberry, president at TalentSmart
“We’ve all been on the receiving end of a scathing email, as well as its mysterious, vaguely insulting cousins,” wrote Bradberry in his post The Cure for Nasty Emails. “They don’t need exclamation points or all caps to teem with anger and drip with sarcasm.”
And what do many of us want to do in response? “Dressing someone down via email is tempting because it’s easy,” he wrote. But don’t, he wrote.
Instead, Bradberry offers five strategies to keep your emotions in check when you’re on the receiving end of a nastygram. Among them:
“Follow Honest Abe’s first rule of netiquette… In [Abraham] Lincoln’s younger years, he had a bad habit of applying his legendary wit when writing insulting letters to, and about, his political rivals,” wrote Bradberry. “But after one particularly scathing letter led a rival to challenge Lincoln to a duel, Lincoln learned a valuable lesson — words impact the receiver in ways that the sender can't completely fathom. By the time he died, Lincoln had amassed stacks of flaming letters that verbally shredded his rivals and subordinates for their bone-headed mistakes. However, Lincoln never sent them. He vented his frustration on paper, and then stuffed that sheet away in a drawer. The following day, the full intensity of his emotions having subsided, Lincoln wrote and sent a much more congenial and conciliatory letter.”
The lesson for the rest of us? “Go ahead and vent — tap out your anger and frustration on the keyboard. Save the draft and come back to it later when you’ve cooled down,” Bradberry wrote. “By then you’ll be rational enough to edit the message and pare down the parts that burn, or — even better — rewrite the kind of message that you want to be remembered by.”
“Remember that people online are still people.” While staring into a cold, anonymous computer monitor, it’s difficult to remember that a living, breathing human being will end up reading your message, Bradberry cautioned. “Psychologist John Suler of Rider University has found that people who are communicating online experience a ‘disinhibition effect’,” he wrote. “Without the real-time feedback between sender and receiver that takes place in face-to-face and telecommunication, we simply don’t worry as much about offending people online… Taking the time to imagine the sender and considering where he/she is coming from is often enough to extinguish the flames before they get out of control.
“Could the sender have misinterpreted a previous message that you sent to him/her? Could (s)he just be having a bad day? Is (s)he under a lot of pressure? Even when the other party is in the wrong, spending a moment on the other side of the monitor will give you the perspective that you need to avoid further escalating the situation.”
Brian de Haaff, chief executive officer at Aha!
It’s the nature of life — things happen that can impact how we feel about, well, everything. When the tragedy is personal, as de Haaff wrote, getting through a bad day can be even more difficult at the office.
“Work is often an antidote to suffering, but it is not a cure-all,” he wrote in his post How Successful People Deal With Bad Days. “Bad news does not wait until a board meeting is over. Whether you work from home or in an office, are the CEO or an intern, you will feel lousy at work. Sometimes it's a low-grade malaise and sometimes it makes you sick.”
So, what do successful people do when they have a bad day? De Haaff offers several strategies. Among them:
“Keep your routine. If you are successful, you are already a disciplined person who lives by good habits. Hold on to as many of those habits as possible,” he wrote. “We cannot stop bad things from happening, but we can control how we react to them. Get back to as much of what you did before things went astray.”
“Go, go, go. We all endure difficult times and have bad days. Depending on what happened, the deep pain can last for a few moments or several months. Some of us live affected our entire lives,” de Haaff wrote. “Set small, achievable goals each week to keep yourself moving forward. Respect what has happened and keep an appreciation for what you have.”
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