We all respond to emails and there are some bloopers that are funny.  This week, I actually received an email from a person, let’s call them Pat. Pat sent out an email with 20 people cced on the email. I responded and asked a clarification question.  Sounds normal right?

Then this happened… Pat responded to my email with the 20 people on it.  The email was about 6 paragraphs long and VERY VERY HOSTILE!  I actually laughed at the email, when I got it. I haven’t seen an email with this much emotion in years!   Then, I politely responded to clarify the request and questions in a professional manner. All facts, in an attempt to realign and get everyone focused.

Email Rollercoaster 

You won’t believe it.. Pat responded again to the email, with another 3 paragraphs at anger at the institution, their role and life in general.   Everyone just stayed silent on the email. Then, Pat responded again. I guess, Pat wasn’t happy with the silence that everyone had via email.  But, we weren’t silent.

I received so many INDIVIDUAL emails and text messages from the other 20 people on the emails, asking who is this PAT? What was their issue? They were surprised at how unprofessional Pat’s email was. They didn’t understand where this emotional email roller coaster had appeared from.

Silent Alarm 

We were silently discussing Pat via other informal communication channels.  We were all stunned at the lack of professionalism. We discussed if this a leadership trait that we wanted representing this organization. We had lost all respect for Pat and in fact, Pat has zero credibility left.  As an executive team, we were discussing to see how we were going to handle Pat’s frustration and trying to figure out the negative downstream impact with all the others in the association.

Emotional Intelligence

As a professor, I thought this was a perfect example and story to teach a very important lesson – Emotional Intelligence.  Emotional Intelligence is a necessary soft skill as it provides the ability for individuals to recognize their own emotions in order to adapt to the current environment to gain the desired outcome. This is massive.

In fact, we chat with Dr. Chris McKillop one of the co-founders of Turalt on the CanInnovate podcast (EP17: Empathy: Understanding it at the heart of every communication).  We chat about how communication is really problematic. Based on statistics, we are spending a quarter of our day on email communication. 64% of employees have actually sent or received an email causing anger or resentment.

It’s a real problem and so much time is being lost. 300 Billion is lost annually in lost productivity from email alone.  Email tone has a lot to do with miscommunication. Turalt believes empathy is at the heart of our communication, and that technology can help us be more effective in increasing our empathy and emotional intelligence in the digital world. Definitely check out this podcast episode, it’s mind-blowing.

Burning Bridges 

Ultimately, Pat has burned bridges with all 20 of us. Pat is an independent consultant and watching this lack of professional behavior has done a few things.  He has burned bridges with many of us.

  1. Loss of business relationships – We will definitely be reluctant in referring any business to Pat.  None of us are willing to risk our business relationships with a loose canon.
  2. Future Uncertainty – This outburst of emotion via email has definitely called attention with the executive teams and if Pat has the right leadership skills. It has called into question about how we want the organization to be represented.
  3. Violation of Code of Ethics – most organizations talk about mutual respect in an organization and amongst all individuals. This could be a case for HR consideration, with additional consequences.

Emotional Check

  1. If you’re frustrated or angry – write down on a piece of paper with all of the anger and frustration, but do NOT SEND.  If you’re going to do it digitally, take out everyone’s names in the email boxes. You don’t want to accidentally email them. Don’t be that person
  2. Focus on FACTs, not emotions.  What are the next steps to move things forward? Are there options? What is the intent of the message?
  3. Get a colleague or friend to read the email.
  4. Get off EMAIL – suggest a quick call to close communication gaps and get aligned.

It’s hard not to get emotional at work, but perception is key to anyone’s success. Remember your mom’s advice. Never burn bridges…. you never know where that connection can be valuable.

Have you had a similar experience? How did you deal with it?  Looking forward to hearing your stories. We’ve all met That Person… the trick is.. Don’t be that person! 

Hope this helps!

Best Always,

Sapna

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