Why You Shouldn’t Email When You Are Angry

Updated July 19, 2021 by Iulian Ionescu | Read Time min.
angry email business

All of us have been angry or upset at someone else at least a few times in our lives. No matter how accepting, reconciling, and peaceful you are, you are bound to get into a situation where you get angry with a friend, co-worker, or a member of your family. It seems as if the anger in our lives is growing in the last few decades. Nowadays, we have a lot more tools to express our anger publicly, that it has become much more obvious and in our face. The Internet has made all of us a bit of a media wannabe, and we have at the tip of our fingers magnificent tools such as forums, blogs and micro-blogs, email, social networks, syndication, and so much more. It’s so much easier to say what you want to say and so much faster to say the things you will later regret. And this is the subject of this post…

Oh, Email! Are You Friend or Foe?

Email is definitely an integral part of our life, almost as common as any utility. Regardless of age or background, most people today own a personal computer to send and receive emails. More so, with the introduction and proliferation of smartphones, email is at our literal fingertips at all times.

That has turned a vast majority of our communication from speaking to the written form. I am sure that most of you sent an email to a co-worker in the next room with a one-liner such as: “I am ready, should we go to lunch?” All logic dictates that a short call or a walk to the next room or even a shout would be a little more normal, for the lack of a better word.

I say the lack of a better word because the truth is that email is “normal” nowadays, and people find it hard to believe that there are any other means to communicate. Unfortunately or not, we have to accept that digital communication will only continue to evolve over the next few decades and that email will be, for quite some time, the major method of communication. Our digital life will continue to take over and replace our analog life, app after app.

email smartphone

And Then We Get Angry…

Now, let’s put anger and email together to get closer to what I want to say.

Anger is a potent sentiment. Most things that are extreme spawn from anger. Love, passion, and kindness are powerful, too. Still, the likelihood of one person acting irrationally, impulsively, and without a clear sight of those actions’ potential effects, driven by these feelings, is very remote compared to what results out of anger.

Most people will not act when angry, but they will explode verbally. They will yell, scream, and swear. Others will keep their emotions even more bottled-in, but they will have that inner voice that screams like the sounds of a thousand demons inside their heads, feeding a life-long ulcer.

Society today taught us to behave, and therefore, when we are angry, we are conditioned to refrain from acting too wild and will do our best to keep our emotions inside. But there has to be a way to open the valve and let some of that steam out. And this is where email comes in.

email typing

Email Is The Perfect Canvas

Email is a really, really strange medium of communication, and here is why. When you write an email, you don’t have the ability to write as fast as you talk. So, you have a bit of time to gather your thoughts, and the process is slower.

While you write, your conscious mind is “talking.” As you write your email, you actually see yourself facing your message’s recipient, as if you were facing each other in a room. You may not have this precise image, but you feel the presence one way or another.

While you write, you are truly “speaking” to this person. The difference between this type of communication and a regular chat is that the other person cannot answer, or if they do, they will answer exactly what you think or wish they would answer. And therefore, the discussion becomes a monologue or a conversation that you will “win.” And that’s the root of the danger of writing an email while angry.

When you have a conversation with a person face to face, you see their expression; you hear them speak, they can interrupt you and give you feedback or reasons for whatever you are angry about. During the conversation, the discussion may become heated, you might curse or say bad things, but you will reach some reconciliation or understanding sooner or later.

Once you do that, what is left in your mind is that we found common ground; we both said things, but now let’s move on. When you write an email, things are different. There is no one to intimidate you on the other side. You feel in control, and you are driving both characters—yourself and the recipient. You will not be censored, and you will feel empowered while your anger escalates exponentially.

You don’t give the other the ability to defend themselves. Instead, you build your anger, which can only result in you saying things you will regret later.

punch angry fist

The Dreaded Send Button

Maybe later, you will realize that you took something out of context or out of proportions or were missing a piece of information… But once you hit that Send button, your written anger is now stapled in black and white forever in the other’s mailbox.

You don’t have the same conclusion as you do in person because usually, the end of that talk takes place much later. The person you wrote the email to will read it alone, probably quite a while after you had sent it. It’s going to be very difficult to take some of those words back, now that they’ve been typed and sent. Much harder than the way a handshake and a smile can end a very heated discussion.

Patience, My Dear Watson

So, what to do?

Well, I suggest that anytime you feel outraged, take some time to reflect before writing an email about it. Give it a few hours or even a day if the situation allows it.

Wait until you break your current state. You can use various methods, such as:

  • Listen to your favorite music.
  • Find some funny videos on the Internet (or watch some comedy stand-up videos).
  • Eat something delicious
  • Talk to somebody to burn off the anger
  • Meditate

Once you come back and you are no longer as angry as you were before, then you can sit down and write your email.

And when you do, make sure that you do not let the anger take you over again. If you are a person with logic, you will be able to address the issue decently, and you will be able to express your anger, but not the same way as you would if you were writing it while angry.

If a problem appears at work or in your personal life that actually requires you to be angry, I am not saying to turn it around and make it sweet and shiny. If the situation needs you to be upset and express that, by all means, do it, but do not do it WHEN you are angry.

If you do, you will not deliver the message; you will merely deliver blind anger. The other person will not understand or correct what needs to be corrected because they will be thinking about the angry words you sent to them.

Now, before you go, I have…

3 Questions For You

  1. Have you ever sent an angry email and regretted it later?
  2. What are your personal tools and processes to prevent yourself from sending an angry email?
  3. How have you reacted when you received an angry email from someone?

Please share your answers in the comments below. Sharing knowledge helps us all improve and get better!

iulian-ionescu


Tags

behavior, emotions, mindset


  • Thank you Iulian. Very thoughful and thought provoking. I’ve sent many an email that I later regretted – so this is very good advice for me. – Virginia

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