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How to respond to an upsetting email

How to respond to an upsetting email

Receiving an annoying email can bring out the worst in us- if we let it. Whether the email is critical, hostile, or rude, it’s easy to get caught up in our emotions. At the same time, how you respond can speak volumes about your maturity, business, and public relations  savvy. Here are some valuable tips for PR people.

  • Don’t respond emotionally.  An upsetting email can trigger various emotions, such as shock, anger, or panic. Before you respond, take a few deep belly breaths to get your emotions in check and center yourself. 
  • Don’t respond immediately. The worst way to respond to an upsetting email is to shoot back an equally upsetting reply. Take a strategic pause. Remember that once you hit send, your hasty response becomes public. 
  • Thank the writer for taking the time to communicate. Even if the message has a negative tone, the writer cared enough about you and your relationship to share their thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge this.
  • Explain your position without blame. This is only the start of the conversation, and there may be facts the writer doesn’t know about. Use this opportunity to share this knowledge with them.
  • Identify core issues. In your response, offer a resolution for the issue that troubled the writer. If they feel you don’t understand what’s at stake, they may disengage entirely.
  • Use “I apologize” rather than “I’m sorry.” Apologize is a performative verb. Simply by writing, “I apologize,” you have performed an action. In contrast, “I’m sorry” is more of an explanation about how you’re feeling.
  • Focus on solutions. You have no control over what has already happened, but you can concentrate your attention—and your reader’s attention—on the future, where positive change can take place.
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