Angry Email: Don't even think about it!  

A blog by Jean M. Schmith

You're angry, and you're going to let him have it with an angry email

If you send it, the loser will be you.

To begin with--if you are in business, your emails should be informational only.  They should be as brief as possible, conveying pertinent information, and should never be personal.  That should be axiomatic and automatic, but unfortunately it is not.  Bosses reprimand via email.  Employees send grievances via email.  And of course when this is done, the reader must guess at the tone, and frequently that guess is not accurate.  Which brings us back to rule #1 which is BUSINESS EMAILS ARE FOR INFORMATION, APPOINTMENTS, AND POLICY STATEMENT ONLY.  If you need to speak to someone within your organization, do it in person whenever possible, and by phone when person-to-person isn't practical.

Why is it dangerous to send emails when you are angry?  Just what's wrong with an angry email?  After all, you're angry!  There are many reasons.

First--tone.  How can you tell if the person is joking or deadly serious--sarcastic or right on point?  You only need to look at the tweets that are all over the news today.  Occasionally some ugly thing is tweeted by someone in authority, and that tweet is re-sent thousands of times.  When people are offended, the person who sent the tweet will say "I was only joking; don't you understand sarcasm?"  The answer is "No, you frequently can't get sarcasm from a tweet--or an email--because neither conveys TONE.  Tone is given by the person reading, not the person writing."  So many misunderstandings can arise when the tone intended by the writer is not seen by the reader.  "Tone" is a good reason for personal conversations under any circumstances, and it's especially important to consider when you are about to write an angry email.  Your tone may well be over the top angry already--and made even worse when the recipient reads the words written.

Second--permanence.  You can't take back what you've written.  As my father frequently said to me:  "Jean Marie, never put in writing what you would not want to see in the headlines of the Grand Forks Herald."  You get the drift.  Writing is permanent.  You've said it.  The recipient will read and perhaps even save it.  It's out there and you cannot take it back.  If you are writing in anger you're quite apt to say something you regret.  Don't do it.  Cool off first, and then handle your anger in person with the object of that anger.

Third--Immediacy.  Cool off first.  Don't write ANYTHING right after an event that has made your blood boil.  Think about what matters; think about how to handle things; think about whether or not you're over-reacting; thing about the ramifications of confrontation.  When you are calm and cool-headed, then take whatever action is best.  But don't do it via email.  Do it in person or don't do it at all.

When you've established the tone you want, and what you want to convey, and you are calm and collected--then act.  Act with mindfulness and tact.  Act in person with the individual that has offended you.  (For tips on how to "confront" a person that has offended you, check out Dan's Youtube videos.)  Save the emails for office information; you'll be glad you did!


If you'd like Dan O'Connor to come into your organization and deliver training or a keynote address, go to and contact Dan.  Also, while there, check out Dan's free materials and his premium resources as well.  His 50-lesson downloadable course is an effective learning tool for individuals and organizations alike.  If you're looking for weekly training sessions, the 50-lesson course, complete with audios, videos, and materials will do the trick for you.