In today’s world, email has become a part of our everyday personal and professional lives. It is an easy way to communicate. It can also be efficient and effective. However, email can be a tool that everyone uses to perpetuate persistent workplace aggression.

 Email allows us to say things in written form that we might not say to someone’s face.  We are frequently less empathetic in email because we do not have to look at the person or see their reaction. We are just typing on a keyboard.

People expect immediate responses when an email is sent and with this comes the risk of inappropriate and reactive emails. It is also very difficult to decipher the mood of a person who is receiving the email. This is another way that emails can be misinterpreted and have the potential to cause problems.

In today’s world, the expectation of privacy is not what it used to be. Once we put something in an email, it is likely to be there forever. So always ask yourself, this question, “Do I want someone else to read this?” It is always better to talk face-to-face about issues that may cause conflict or that could be misconstrued.

Here is an actual email that I received at work. The email content is inappropriate for a professional and even a personal setting. The bolding and capital letters in an email denotes yelling. There are clear threats outlined in this email and the threats are not just aimed at me but also includes others. This email included at least five other email recipients.

“This my official notice to you and others TO NOT COMMUNICATE WITH
if it has to do with this circus.  I am also notifying administration
about this, and that any such communication from you and others will be viewed as HARASSMENT and trust me I will take the appropriate action.  If you think I have committed a crime please notify the police to do their job and stop policing me.  The conversation is over.”

Organizations need to develop clear guidelines for how email is used and these need to be followed. Here are some suggestions:

  • Emails should be short, clear, and concise.
  • Be careful about what is written in your emails.
  • Don’t send an email when you are upset.
    • Write it and sit on it for a bit. Have someone else read it before you send it.
  • In an email less is more.
  • Only cc those people that are absolutely needed.  
  • Do not get into email battles and always take the high ground.
  • Always be polite and respectful.
  • Follow up emails with actual conversations.
Careful use of email in an organization can make a huge difference in helping prevent and stop persistent workplace aggression.

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05/24/2016 5:59am

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