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Cool, Before Sending

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Email is a wonderful tool, especially if used properly.

I’m part of a group of five or six friends, who “physically” get together most weekends (as opposed to virtually). We also email each other, usually every few days, to generally trade jokes, share news, and discuss scheduling problems to do with when we are next getting together. We are starting to talk on Messenger too.

One Monday a few weeks ago, our emailing rate suddenly spiked to more than thirty emails in about twelve hours. Unfortunately, this was a few days after someone new had just joined our group. Luckily she didn’t flee in terror, and things calmed down.

Things really NEEDED to calm down because most of the thirty-plus emails were coming from a fight between two of my friends. I’ll call them Katrina and Chris.

Hopefully, reading this article won’t restart the fight. (If it does I’ll expect an angry email or two saying, ‘I won’t be coming on Sunday…or ever again.’)

Let me repeat. Email is wonderful if used right. After the fight cooled down a little, Chris even mentioned that the nature of sending and receiving emails allows one to think before you reply, if you take the time.

If someone emails you and says you are an idiot, you can safely write the scathing reply you want to, full of all manner of the foulest insults and bad language. I recommend you write just such a vicious answer.

But write it with a word processor program, rather than directly into a blank email. You get all kinds of help with spelling, editing, and punctuation. It is massively embarrassing to get an email saying that you are an idiot, and then have even one misspelled word in your (meant to be) derisive reply.

The more important reason to write your reply in a word processor is that you can’t click ‘send’ the moment you finish writing. You can’t fire it off without opening a new email and then ‘cut-and-pasting’ your acidic words into it, which gives you a minute to cool down.

Ideally, give yourself an hour or more to cool down in a situation like this. After half an hour, reread the email you are responding to. Did they say ‘you are an idiot’, or ‘you look like an idiot when you don’t spell check’?

If you hadn’t guessed already, Katrina and Chris didn’t take an hour, or even a few minutes to cool down before replying to each other’s emails. Usually, both are more sensible so maybe they just had an off-day on the same day. Or, maybe they had real and genuine complaints about each other that needed to be discussed and resolved.

Regardless of why they did it, they then traded a series of steadily more insulting emails, replying to each other without taking time to cool down. Our group received more than thirty emails. One email somehow got sent to ‘undisclosed recipients’, which sparked accusations of bizarre cover-ups involving secretly sharing our private business with mysterious shadowy strangers.

Eventually, they took their fight to a more private level, no longer ‘CC’ing their insults to the rest of us. In this private exchange, I think the insults got even more vicious.

No longer getting ‘CC’ed emails, from either Chris to Katrina or Katrina to Chris, I thought that they both had calmed down and grown-up. Then out of the blue, both of them emailed me offering to drop out of the group. We nearly lost them both because they couldn’t stand to be in the same room together after what they’d said in their rapid-fire emails. I spent days talking to them both on Messenger to sort it out. We did even lose Chris for a few weeks. However, I left the door open for him to return, and eventually, he did.

Email is a wonderful tool. But be careful, you can burn your bridges if you don’t use it with a cool head.

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