Yes. I finally did the one thing you should never, ever do. I sent an angry email. My father would not be proud.
The corporate environment often creates gaps for being an effing retard. Going against your own better judgment because you didn’t take two minutes to act rationally. I sent an angry email and it completely blew up in my face. Big surprise.
This post serves to 1) reiterate the fact that one should NEVER TOUCH A KEYBOARD when you are angry, or hurt, or emotional in any way; and 2) hopefully offer a few tips on what to do instead, when all you really want to do is snap your keyboard in half and stab someone with it. Yes, sometimes our emotions get the better of us. At some point in your career, it’s bound to happen in the office. Oops. While this should not happen, ever, let’s consider what to do when it does.
First order of business: Damage control
Milliseconds after you hit that ‘Send’ button, your first thought will probably be “Oh, shit”. Nothing cools down your temperature quite as fast as a combination of fear and regret. This is your gap to think straight and start planning your damage control strategy. Think worst case scenario – what reaction is this going to evoke from the recipient of your message; who else will this reach; who else will be dragged into this mess; what is the best way to get yourself out of the mess – what do you need to say, to whom, and how soon? Let me share my brilliant eff-up as an example:
I sent a very rude email to a superior. Seconds later I found out that (via the corporate grapevine, which conveys information faster than any wifi network) that they did not… take kindly to my email. As I evaluated the situation, I concluded that this will undoubtedly reach my direct manager. So I gave him an immediate heads-up, explaining what happened and why it happened. This placed him in a position to handle the situation better when it reaches him. Next, I took ten minutes to construct an apology, deciding what I should apologize for, what not to apologize for and what mood to set. Then I manned up and called the wronged party, with a carefully thought out apology.
Second order of business: Assessment and introspection
In order to prevent this happening again, it’s pretty important to assess the situation – how you got there in the first place, and how you can avoid it in the future. You need to consider the factors at play – colleagues stirring intentionally for gain/drama/just to get a reaction from you, colleagues encouraging you in your evil and anger, or similar external influences. You also need to assess yourself – why did you show this reaction? Are there other factors (work-related or personal) that triggered your reaction? Once you pin-pointed other factors, you can devise a strategy to keep it from happening again.
Third order of business: Keeping it from happening again
There are a few things you can do in the future to avoid getting into a similar situation.
  1. When you are feeling overly emotional (angry, sad, disappointed, ecstatic, whatever), take a walk. Get away from a telephone or keyboard or other devices you can use to express yourself poorly. Go make coffee, fill your water bottle on the other side of the office building, go outside for two minutes or go lock yourself in the bathroom if you need to. Simply remove yourself for ten minutes. This will prevent you from acting too quickly.
  2. Get quiet and think of the worst case scenario – what are the worst outcomes of your intended message or reaction? Is it worth those outcomes? Consider the aftermath of your emotions.
  3. Can you get your message across in another way, via another medium? Think about what exactly the problem is and what other solutions there are to the problem. Then decide on a new course of action.
Of course, when you find yourself in a situation of sending an angry email, the problem is that you did not think clearly in the first place, otherwise all of the above would have been pretty obvious. Hence the importance of step 1: GET UP AND LEAVE ANY FORM OF COMMUNICATION CHANNELS. If you do this, your chances of survival gets so much higher. Good luck, fellow corporate millennials.