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How to deal with a rude email.

How to deal with a rude email.

October 22, 2012

That viral recruiter email trail that went around a few weeks ago was a prime example of someone really not thinking before firing off a series of (ridiculous) bad-mannered messages, and we’re sure that that person is regretting it all now! Sometimes (hopefully not very often) you might receive a rude email – it happens to the best of us – and depending on how bad it is you might not know quite how to respond. If the offending email is particularly irritating, it may be tempting to fire off a quick reply telling the respondent how you feel about said situation and that you aren’t an incompetent fool like they suggested.

Lifestyle blog Lifehacker were sent an email by a reader who asked for advice on how to deal with the odd rude email, and they offered a few handy tips to help you keep your cool and sort out the situation.

Don’t respond immediately (if at all).

If you’ve been lashed out at by email, the worst thing you can do is give it straight back. You’ll only be stooping to their level, or even lower if you’re particularly annoyed, so sometimes it’s a good idea to flag them for later, and let you cool off while it all sinks in.

Unless you absolutely have to reply, it might be a good idea to just ignore and trash it. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the trouble, and you can have some instant stress relief by just hitting the delete key.

Try text expansion for easy instant responses.

You can set up text expansion shortcuts which replace a few keystrokes with long strings of text to help you respond with blanket messages without having to participate in a dialogue yourself. You could set up a message like:

I’m open to hearing what you have to say and having a discussion about it, but I have a policy of ingoring people who take a malicious approach to conversation. I felty something that you said fell under this heading, and if you’d like to try again with a kinder approach, I’d be happy to have a conversation with you.

This way, you’re highlighting the fact that you took offense to their email and that you take a stance to not dignify said behaviour with a response. Again, this is something you’ll have to consider carefully, as some people might become more enraged at this type of response.

Kill them with kindness.

When someone is being completely irrational, sometimes it’s easier to just be the bigger person and just be really nice – obviously you have to make sure you’re capable of responding nicely (and not have your message come off as sarcastic!) so you might want to take a few breaths first. These two things are key:

  • Acknowledge their feelings by asserting that you understand why they’re annoyed – it can be enough to get the person on your side.
  • Solve their problem as effectively as possible. If, in fact, you can’t (and not because you don’t want to) explain why as clearly as you can.

Get a second opinion before hitting send.

It’s easy to take a rude email personally, so think about asking for advice. You can send a draft response to a friend to check over before it goes out, so you can feel confident that you have answered the rude email appropriately and that you have the right tone.

Move on.

Ultimately, a rude email is exactly what it is – it’s not really worth getting upset about. Some people are rude, and they probably always will be. You’ll feel much better to know that you’re a mature person who can deal with a situation and get on with your day.


Do you have any good tips for dealing with a rude email?

Take me back.

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