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E-mail Communication Feedback Expectations Bullies Self-Insight

I am in an administrative support position, and I get email from many people in the company. I am wondering why so many people have a mean tone in their messages. I can feel myself get tense before I read email from certain people here. What can you suggest?

There are actually two problems here, and one is related to the senders of the messages, and the other is related to you.

It is true that some people send mean email. There are virtual bullies who hide behind the safety of a keyboard and launch all sorts of insulting, degrading, and intimidating messages. The best way to deal with them is to avoid responding in kind online, as that only intensifies the problem. A better step is to either call or visit the sender and assertively express your concern.

There are other cases where people send messages that only sound mean. Perhaps their word choice is poor, or they are not particularly sensitive to the limitations of email as a means of communication, especially since it misses the nuances of pitch, tone, volume, body language, or real feedback. A call or visit in these situations can help in these situations, too.

However, email can seem mean because of your expectations. You mentioned that you feel yourself becoming tense before you open some of these messages. Your mindset can cause you to interpret any message more negatively, regardless of the senderís intent or language. By looking carefully at yourself and the senders, you may be more satisfied with the messages that you are receiving.

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