Article Summary:Guidelines for dealing with rude email.
As of late, online has been a bit "off". Not sure if it is the unusually strong solar flares, full moon or the fact Mars is closer to Earth that it has been or will be for 1,000s of years. Rude and crass email seems to be at an all time high. Emails blurting out demands or questions without the courtesy of a decent subject field or a thank you to follow. Questions or requests that are demanding a reply without the courtesy of a hello, or a closing that notes their name.
Could it be because manners seem to be at an all time low off-line? Combine this with folks not learning the power of the written word or the skills to communicate clearly to reflect their tone and intent and you have a volatile combination. There are two assumptions here. The first being that anything goes online. There are no rules, you can do what you want - period - and don't try to tell anyone differently. Proof in point I was spammed numerous times through this site's contact form by someone typing in caps with profanities questioning my content and opinions here at OnlineNetiquette.com. Who did I think I was even implying that folks be courteous? The Internet is a "free-for-all" and there are no rules!! Then, as those who email in that manner usually do, their protest emails used a bogus email address so I could not respond - so typical of those who react in that way to what they don't want to hear or do. They literally prove my point on this topic!
Secondly and a big contributor, is the belief that there is no good reason (even if there actually is one) for anyone to not say what they want when they want (freedom of speech issue) or have what they want, when they want it and how they want it. Consideration for other's feelings and opinions don't matter when you can tap out some uninformed crudeness and hit SEND.
Folks are quite bold in the anonymity being behind this screen offers them. Some fly off the handle without reading an entire site, article, thread or email, many times picking out parts to create a manifesto of opposition without actually looking at the big picture of the topic at hand. Those who are uninformed with lack of attention to detail do not hesitate to spew their self important opinions that many times are not based in fact or reality. Misunderstandings occur, business is lost, feelings get hurt. All because folks do not take the time to communicate carefully with the written word by integrating courtesy and clarity.
What do you do when you are the recipient of an email with and accusatory or rude tone? Well, I used to be a firm believer, that you should respond to every email someone takes the time to send you - that is everything but spam. However, as of late, I have even found myself at a loss for words when reading some of the email that has come my way. Folks who don't know me using verbiage that makes my cheeks flush!
Unfortunately, I think all of us will have to deal with these "personalities" at one time or another and probably more so that any of us prefer. Here are some thoughts to help you determine if and how to deal with rude or nasty email:
1) If you receive an email with foul language or threats, know that this is against the TOS (Terms of Service) of all ISPs. Immediately send the email to abuse@ at their ISP. Keep the email on file in case you need to refer to it or provide additional copies down the road.
2) When you receive an email that is blatantly rude or obnoxious and is not based in fact, think about if there is any constructive reason to have to respond. If the tone is so bad that you feel your blood pressure rise, wait until the next morning at the very least to even think about if you need to respond at all. Your ego is not large enough (I hope) to have the need to defend yourself when faced with incorrect accusations or personal digs, especially from folks who don't know you. Don't lower yourself to their level by responding to this type of email in kind. Hold yourself to a higher ground and do not respond at all, regardless of the tone or accusations within the email in question.
3) If someone emails you because they are misinformed, did not take the time to read the information on your site or a post somewhere online or possibly could have made an honest mistake, "kill" them with kindness and give them the benefit of the doubt. Most truly do not know how they are perceived by virtue of their lack of email skills, nor do they expect you to take them at their word. All too often you'll hear "I didn't mean it that way...." Well, I have a saying around here, if you type it, you'd better mean it.
4) Folks who email in this manner simply do not realize the power of their words and the tone they are setting. Point out in a courteous manner the information to correct the issue or point them to the area on your site or elsewhere that has the info they seek without personalizing the issue. Thank them for contacting you, sign off in a professional manner and hold your head high knowing you just provided a level of courtesy that is quite rare online. You may even be surprised when that very same Netizen sends you a thank you email! That being said, with some folks there is nothing you can do to sway them. You can be correct, courteous and clear and it won't matter - they simply will not admit to being misinformed or plain old wrong. Don't take it personally, feel sorry for anyone with a mind that closed and move on.
Because you have a Web site, are visible in online forums, or are available via email in no way means that you have the responsibility to respond to those who do not communicate with you in a respectful courteous manner. And, most likely those who do not communicate with courtesy and knowledge are folks none of us would care to form a relationship with or do business with anyway. So, don't let worrying about loosing that online "friend" or business "lead" have you lower your standards in regard to how you want to be treated.
I receive on average over 600 emails each day. Most are positive and many are simply wonderful written by great people across the globe who have been to one of my sites and are asking my assistance or advice. However, for those increasing number of folks who think they can just email and make accusations, demands or requests without a hint of courtesy or consideration, well, they won't be hearing from me - DELETE!
Judith Kallos is an authoritative and good-humored Technology Muse whose experience, personalized methodology and valuable Web sites have opened doors to a legion of online entrepreneurs. Her passion to bring the best of technology to the online world is evidenced by her popular E-mail Etiquette and proper technology use Web site: http://www.Online Netiquette.com and soon to be released book on the topic: "Because Netiquette Matters!".