Handling Difficult Email Exchanges at Work

Emails have become a common form of communication in the workplace. And while most emails you receive will be pleasant—or at least straightforward—some may catch you off guard. 

If you’ve received an unpleasant email from a coworker or manager, take a moment to think before you react. Rather than attacking the other person’s comments, try using these three strategies to deal with a difficult email exchange:

  1. Talk first

Through verbal interaction (best would be face to face), you may be able to read the other person’s emotions, tone of voice and body language and understand what they were thinking when they wrote the email. Not only that, but it will be much easier to have the conversation in person as opposed to sitting behind a computer screen volleying multiple emails. A conversation can get off track this way and potentially become more difficult to deal with than it should be.

  1. Listen carefully

It may seem easier to lay down your facts and give your point of view first, but it’s important to listen to what the other person has to say. And keep in mind that their message simply might not have translated well via email. Take a breath and listen so you can address the actual issues.

  1. Focus on the facts

Keep the conversation on topic. This will help you and the other person avoid making snap judgments or drawing conclusions too soon. When you discuss the facts, you can provide details and data to try and come to a mutual agreement—or at least, an understanding.

While emails are a quick way to communicate, they are not always effective. Let the tool meet the need. Sharpen your communication skills with Dardis Communications’ Leadership Presentation & Image Skills program.