We've all been there, you open your inbox, and it hits you. A verbal tirade of rudeness and cattiness; complete with capital letters, snarky comments, and explanation marks. You think to yourself 'you've got to be kidding me' (feel free to substitute kidding with a verb of your choice). You know you should take the highroad, but nothing would feel better than reaching through that screen and smacking the person on the other end. While not responding sends a message, sometimes a response is necessary.
Here are my sure fire ways to deal with rude emails, while still getting your point across:
1. Never send an angry response. While it may be the easiest to hit reply and fire away, it gets you nowhere and makes you look just as bad. Don't get me wrong, often times I construct a response full of four letter words, capital letters, and my own exaggerated punctuation. But I never hit send, in fact before I begin writing a response I immediately delete the address in the 'To' box. Once you send an angry response you can never take it back, and what you said in the heat of the moment can forever alter the dynamics of any relationship, so think carefully.
2. Take the emotion out of it. Yes this means responding a day or so later, but it's important to be rational in your response and not emotional. And most importantly, never match their attitude
3. Be detailed about your issues with said piece of communication. Outline why you didn't appreciate it, perhaps offer alternative ways for them to voice their concern.
4. Accept any responsibility. No one is perfect. Owning up to your shortcomings puts you a step ahead of the person sending the nasty-gram. If you are willing to go a step further, offer a solution.
5. Get in their head. Perhaps asking them where they're coming from will help you understand their frame of mind (though nothing excuses a nasty-gram).
6. Open the door, but don't be a doormat. Let the person know that you are willing (if you are) to help resolve the issue, but be sure to let them know that communication in this form will not be tolerated.
7. Suggest an in person meeting. It's easy to get worked up while typing on a laptop, in person the trivial things will actually seem trivial and not items to be capitalized. And it's a lot easier to be rude when typing compared to being rude to some one's face.
8. Never hit reply all. If the negative communication is sent to a multitude of individuals, it's not appropriate to send your reply to all, it is frustrating for everyone else to see your relationship dynamic play out.
Here's a snippet from a longer response I created in response to a nasty-gram while planning a mutual friends shower:
I would like to say that I didn't appreciate the email you sent. As you suggested it was harsh, but it was more than just harsh, it felt deliberate. The paragraph where you detail the purpose of the shower. Were the capital letters used to reference (shower recipient's name here) really necessary? We love and care about (shower recipient's name here) as much as you ladies do, so please don't talk down to us.
I don't think that email is reflective of you as a person, and I understand things can get confusing and stressful. But there are better ways to go about getting clarification or voicing your concerns. If anything I have said doesn't sit well with you, please email me directly or call me.
Without being emotional, I outlined my frustrations, offered a solution, and responded to that individual only. Hope this helps you get your point across without losing your head the next time you are on the receiving end of a nasty-gram.