What to Write: Handling Rude Emails
Wondering what to write in response to rude or disrespectful emails? Rude emails can be quite a challenge for any professional especially since they aren’t all that uncommon. They are a fact of life that every good professional needs to learn to deal with.
Dealing with such emails, though, is all about knowing what you can’t do, what you can do, and how to go about doing it.
Receiving a rude email from a customer or a colleague can be very difficult for multiple reasons. The most obvious of these is that an aggressive, uncivilized, email almost always incites an emotional response in the receiver. After all, nobody likes personal attacks and most rude emails are just that.
Knowing what to write in response to rude emails is also difficult because of how easily they snowball into a lasting conflict that requires a mediator to resolve. In the process, the reputations of the people involved take a hit. In fact, at the end of it all, it doesn’t even matter who initiated the entire conflict or whether one person was trying to resolve it.
So, another reason why a rude email is a problem for most professionals is that the outcome is very difficult to control since the aggressor is already prepared for a conflict. In some cases, the aggressor may even actively try to incite a response from you and create a conflict.
It is definitely a trap that requires considerable skill to avoid and deflect. In fact, the best thing you can do is try to defuse the situation from your end and perhaps disarm the aggressor. In this lecture, I will explain how you can go about doing this.
Delay Your Response
The very first thing you need to do after you’ve opened and read a rude email is to step away, especially if the email has managed to incite emotions in you. In fact, you need to step away both mentally and physically.
Physically, you can take a walk, get a cup of coffee, go to the washroom, or just step outside to take a long, deep breath. When you return you need to create mental space by avoiding the email and doing some other task.
All this separation is important because you need to clamp down on your emotions to prevent the matter from escalating. You should never respond to a rude email if it has managed to get a rise out of you. Planning what to write in advance and taking the time to think about your response is essential.
Drill Down to The Actual Problem
When you do return to the problem, the first thing you need to do is make sure that a response is necessary. Many times, especially with rude emails from coworkers, the best thing to do is to dismiss them out of hand.
For example, if you get an email from a coworker saying, “I see that your lunch breaks are getting longer by the day” or even “we all know your meetings don’t last that long”, there’s no reason to respond to it.
The best way to see if the offending email requires a response or not is to figure out the intent of the sender. If they actually have a work-related problem, then you need to respond to the email. In contrast, if they’re out of line and don’t really have a work-related problem, you can choose to disregard the email.
If you think the rude email requires a response, start by getting a clarification to make sure that you’re not assuming misinterpretating what they want to say.
Avoid Emotion and Focus Only on Facts
“I hope you actually find time to finish your reports today”,
It is best to respond to such ambiguously rude emails by pretending there was no offence and seeking clarification. You could say,
“I’ve completed and submitted all my reports except for one which is due in a couple of days. Shall I share the draft copy of this report with you?”
The idea is to ignore the aggressive tone and be as professional as possible. It is also recommended to keep your response short, neutral, and crisp in case the original sender was actually trying to be rude.
Also, it is important to not give an emotional response to rude emails, whether they’re subtle or overtly aggressive. Similarly, you should avoid explaining yourself or accusing the sender of being rude because both these scenarios will escalate the problem.
Review Email Twice Before Sending
Once you’ve written a response to the rude email, don’t send it. You need to review it a minimum of two times before sending it. Go through it once after completing the draft and then take another break.
Same as before, get some physical and mental separation before returning and reviewing your response once again. You’re looking for emotional notes in your response so that you can remove them.
If you’re sure, the email is dry, short, professional, and unemotional, click send and make sure that you’ve moved on to better things in your life.
Not Sure What to Write? Take It Offline
Sometimes, no matter what you do, a rude customer, client, colleague just doesn’t let go. They’re persistent and keep on being rude or insulting you in the email thread. In such scenarios, you have only two options.
The first is to take the conversation offline. Many times, people are more comfortable being rude online than offline. So, when you take things offline, they tone down their rudeness and aggression, allowing you to resolve the issue. You should also consider getting a mediator for such a conversation as that would further encourage the offender to be civilized.
The other option is to escalate the issue internally. With coworkers and superiors, you can approach the human resources department in your company. With clients and customers, you can bring the issue to the attention of your superiors.
Knowing what to write to address rude emails can be difficult as they incite an emotional response in the receiver and could result in bigger conflicts. While you will never be in complete control of rude emails and their senders, you can still do things to defuse and de-escalate the situation. Your goal should to be handle the situation tactfully to maintain a positive professional reputation.
When it comes to dealing with rude emails, you need to create some physical and mental separation, figure out what the sender wants, avoid emotions in your response, review your reply multiple times, and take the matter offline.
CustomersFirst Academy offers comprehensive customer service training designed to help you grow your skills and advance your career.
To keep learning and developing your knowledge of customer service, we highly recommend the additional resources below:
Parts of an Email: Writing and Organizing Long Emails
How to Write Really Good Emails at Work
How to Compose Emails That Are Easy to Understand
Effective Writing: Using the Right Email Sign-offs And Signatures