7 ways to manage negative emails

Toxic communication is a sure-fire productivity killer

7 ways to manage negative emails

Email may have revolutionised the workplace but many a workplace tension has erupted after negative or hostile emails have been sent.

Learn how to stay professional when you’re on the receiving end of a hostile workplace email. HRDs Coann Labitoria explains why negative emails are frustrating and gives you seven tips for managing that frustration.

A recent survey found that 89% of respondents claimed the daily task of sorting through an inbox of unopened emails or messages is one of the most unpleasant aspects of work so it’s easy to see why some employees can be easily triggered by negative email. Also, a lack of emotional cues such as tone of voice, facial expression and body language could make a straight-forward email from a manager asking for an update, seem like a critical judgement of an employee’s pace in getting things done. 

Sending an angry reply to an email can be satisfying however it’s rarely the best approach. Follow these 7 tips to professionally handle a negative email.

  1. Pause and resist the urge to respond quickly.
  2. Re-read the message carefully to ensure you haven’t misinterpreted it.
  3. Stay calm and avoid getting defensive.
  4. Craft a professional and respectful response that is short, straightforward, and devoid of sarcasm or irony.
  5. Take it offline and have a conversation to clarify things.
  6. Ask for help – get advice from someone with more experience in miscommunication.
  7. Don’t take it personally

No one is immune from receiving a negative email. When it happens to you, approach the situation professionally in a calm and unbiased manner. Lessen the tension where possible and use the opportunity to strengthen the communication between yourself and the sender.

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