OK…I’ve heard of ‘road rage’, but ‘e-mail rage’?

By Sandra Clitter  

Its the end of a long, difficult day. You’re driving home from the office or a client when this numskull cuts you off or almost sideswipes you. Your blood pressure elevates about 50 points, you try to think of suitable ‘retribution’, you come up with a perfect tongue-lashing (remember, you’re in your car), but by the time you have formulated a rejoinder, the offending car is far enough away that you can’t effectively ‘attack’. We’ve all been there. Substitute a careless pedestrian, ignorant shopper, you get the idea.

What ‘saved us from ourselves’? What kept our tongues in our mouth, or our cars in the proper lane? Oftentimes, it is not self-restraint, but lack of opportunity. By the time we knew HOW we wanted to respond, the opportunity was gone…just because the object of our ire kept moving.

Hmmmm…what does this have to do with e-mail? EVERYTHING!!!! I love this CNN article because it is so appropriate. There are times (and we’ve all had them) where we felt attacked via an e-mail. We’re blind-sided by a comment (direct or indirect) in an electronic missive. As the author says, “When was the last time you were driving down the digital highway and felt like you were shot by words?”.

I can think of an instance just last week where this happened to me. E-mail affords us the apparently ‘perfect’ opportunity to respond – often quickly and without thinking things through. The best idea offered? “Back away from the computer”.

Stop. Think. Compose the e-mail response but do NOT hit ‘send’. Sleep on it.

E-mail allows us to ‘knee-jerk’ react. That reaction can just escalate an issue which may (or may not) go away on its own. Imagine if all the people who cut us off on the road (or otherwise maligned us – either intentionally or unintentionally) were as ‘accessible’ as those who ‘attack’ us via e-mail? The world could get ugly – quickly.

Its good food for thought. Just because we have the ability to respond quickly to an e-mail doesn’t necessarily mean that we SHOULD respond quickly. Take your time. Get some perspective. Allow your blood pressure to return to normal. Then, and only then, respond in a manner that allows you to maintain your professionalism and your relationships.



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