7 ways to respond to—and avoid—escalating email snark

We’ve all been flamed in an email. Here’s how to deal with it without resorting to scorched-earth messages.

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I’m so mad, I’m going to sit down and—get this—write you an email! Oh-ho-ho, that’ll teach you, my friend.

Maybe you’ll see things my way if I refer to you in terms relating to body parts, vulgar acts and substances that are raked into piles in barnyards.

Or perhaps I’ll take the high road, and simply employ my Wildean wit to get it through your thick skull that you’re making me angry.

Well, if you have ever been on the receiving end of an email sent in this spirit—and let’s face it, we’ve all been flamed—you realize they sting like a slap of cheap aftershave and can destroy, or at least stink up, a business relationship.

If you’ve ever sent one (Show of hands? Nobody? We knew Ragan.com readers were a high-minded bunch), you know you’ll soon regret sending it. It might even cost you your job.

The courtroom wall

As a former colleague of ours at the Chicago Tribune once said after he had testified in a libel suit, “Never write anything in an email you wouldn’t want to see projected up on a courtroom wall.” And that was after the paper won.

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