Do your emails incite anger?

Often my clients will forward me emails from colleagues, co-workers, and bosses that incite anger, and they are asking me for guidance on how to respond. Regardless of the issue, emails need to be crafted carefully and intentionally. Words matter. Words can defuse a problem or add fuel to the fire. The goal is to find resolve, find common ground, unite, and solve problems.

Sending emails that do not incite anger is important for maintaining positive and productive communication.

Here are some tips to help you compose emails that are more likely to be well-received:

–       Choose the Right Tone:

Use a polite and respectful tone in your email. Avoid being confrontational or aggressive.

Use “please” and “thank you” to convey politeness and gratitude.

Use Proper Greetings and Sign-offs:

Start your email with a polite greeting, such as “Hello,” “Hi,” or

“Dear [Name].”

End your email with an appropriate sign-off, such as “Sincerely,” “Best regards,” or “Thank you.”

–       Be Clear and Concise:

State your purpose or message clearly and concisely. Avoid unnecessary jargon or overly complex language.

Use bullet points or numbered lists for complex information to make it easier to read and understand.

–       Use Positive Language:

Avoid negative or accusatory language. Frame your points in a positive or constructive manner.

Use “I” statements to express your perspective and feelings without blaming the recipient.

–       Proofread:

Check for spelling and grammar errors. Mistakes can make your email seem careless.

Read your email to ensure it conveys the message you intend without ambiguity.

–       Avoid All Caps and Excessive Punctuation:


–       Use Emojis Sparingly:

Emojis can add a friendly touch to your message but overusing them can be unprofessional. Use them judiciously.

–       Give Context:

Provide sufficient context so the recipient understands the purpose of your email. This can help prevent misunderstandings.

–       Ask for Feedback:

If you’re concerned that your email might be received negatively, consider asking for feedback or input from the recipient. Have a trusted ally read the email before you send it. If you are coming from a place of anger, sit on the email for 24 hours before sending it. Re-read it after several hours and make the necessary edits.  

–       Respond Promptly:

If the recipient responds to your email, try to reply promptly to maintain a positive and timely exchange.

–       Address Issues Privately:

If you need to address a problem or concern, consider discussing it privately rather than through a group email or in a public forum. Avoid CCing others unless necessary and only if they are directly affected.

–       Consider the Recipient’s Perspective:

Think about how your email might be received by the recipient. Put yourself in their shoes and anticipate their reactions.

–       Use Humor Carefully:

Humor can lighten the tone, but it’s easy to misinterpret in written form. Use humor with caution and avoid sarcasm.

–       Follow Up:

If the email is addressing a sensitive or potentially anger-inducing topic, consider following up with a face-to-face or phone conversation if necessary.

–        Avoid Triggers:

If you are going to use words like harassment and attack, you better have proof to back that up. Don’t make serious accusations unless you have documented the behavior. From a Christian coaching perspective, we would look at scripture. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is clear that if someone sins, there is a way to handle it. This can apply if someone wrongs you.  

Certain words or comments can trigger a negative emotion in someone else especially when you are taking corrective measures. Telling someone they “should’ve done something” is not encouraging. Giving someone an opportunity to do it better the next time or in the future, is edifying. Instead of saying, “You should’ve done XYZ,” Replace the Commet with, “Next time or in the future, can you…”

–       Don’t Threaten:

If are having a disagreement with someone or don’t see eye to eye, don’t threaten to go to someone’s bosses or human resources. Try to resolve issues one-on-one and in private.

From a Christian coaching perspective, we would look at scripture. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is clear that if someone sins, there is a way to handle it. This can apply if someone wrongs you.  

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens and pays attention to you, you have won back your brother. But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that EVERY WORD MAY BE CONFIRMED BY THE TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES.”

Remember that effective communication is a key component of maintaining positive relationships in both personal and professional settings. By following these tips, you can increase the chances of sending emails that do not incite anger and contribute to productive and respectful communication.

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