You know the scenario. You switch on your BlackBerry to check the emails that have dropped into your inbox overnight. You scroll through, pick one and open it with a flick of your finger. As you read it, it makes you mad, really mad. You respond in haste, crafting a reply as quickly as your thumbs can connect to the tiny keyboard. You let your emotions flow, your heart take over. It feels like electronic therapy - tapping out your anger, your frustration on this tiny device. By the way, have you ever thought why BlackBerrys are built so sturdily — it's to withstand the pressure of angry thumbs! Without so much as a second thought you hit 'send', and within a moment your reply has zipped across the ether. Gone. Just at that moment, have you ever had that sinking feeling? That feeling that says, "I shouldn't have sent that. I really shouldn't have sent that." Sure you have, we all have.
You see, every time one of those angry, emotional, career-limiting emails are sent on their merry little way, the good will in a relationship is gradually chipped away. You can't see the damage, you aren't always able to feel it immediately — but be sure of one thing; it is happening. It festers until you do begin to see the results, and your career takes a nosedive. There's only one person who gets damaged each time you send one of those emails. You. And there's only person who can stop the flow of those toxic emails. You. You seeing the link yet? You're the one that holds the key to making sure that your communication on email is always supportive of your career rather than destructive. Here are a few ideas to mull over:
Think from their perspective, not yours. I'm often asked for that one 'killer concept' that people can adopt to increase their impact at work exponentially. My answer? Simple. Think from their perspective, not yours. Think through how others will feel, how others will react when they see your email. How might that impact you? How might their view of you change as a result of that email? If they will see you as difficult, unsupportive, and churlish as a result of your passionate email, then don't send it. Why would you knowingly present yourself in a negative light? Find another way to make your point. When you are feeling calmer. And hey, you could always discuss it. You know, with another person, face to face. Remember that?
Use your emotions as a barometer. Feel you how feel when you open the email. If it makes you mad, makes you agitated, makes you angry - then don't reply. Just don't. Use your emotions as a barometer, listen to them, and heed their advice. Has an email set your heart racing? Take that as a signal that you shouldn't reply. Not right now, anyway.
Assume only positive. There are few people who will deliberately look to annoy or anger other people. So why not give them the benefit of the doubt? Think about their perspective - why might they be asking for this, or taking that approach? Release your cynicism. Assume innocent until prove guilty. It can be very liberating.
Unleash the power of the draft! So you can't control your angry thumbs? Use the power of the draft. Don't hit the Reply button — instead, get a shiny new email, leave the 'To' field blank, and rant away to your heart's content. Draft, then delete!
David Thompson is the author of The Magic BlackBerry, published by Marshall Cavendish (magicblackberry.co.uk), and runs the boutique people and organisation consultancy Beyond the Dots (beyondthedots.com).
BUY IT HERE: The Magic Blackberry: How to upgrade your relationships at work: a personal leadership fable
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