Aaron's 7 Tips for Writing an Angry eMail

Writing an angry email is dangerous. Only trained professionals should attempt such a risky career defining move. After clicking send on that emotionally-charged email, you'll realize the truth - one wrongly worded sentance to the wrong person when you don't have all the facts could haunt you for the rest of your life. And once you click send, you can't get it back. It will exist forever, saved in someone's inbox. Your rival will cherish it, ready to use it like a hand grenade throwing your words back at you.

But you don't care about that, right? You want to throw caution to the wind and prove you're right at all costs! HULK SMASH and all that. I don't suggest ever sending an email in the throws of emotion. Take a breath. Leave the office. Drink some Tassimo coffee. Come back, crack your knuckles, and pray for serenity.

And if you still need to send that email... be wise and think it through. Because really, a trained professional wouldn't send that angry email you wrote in your head on the way back from the meeting where everything blew up.

Here are my seven tips for the angry email writing process:

1) Don't put any email addresses in the send box

It's a natural habit to put people's names/addresses into the to: box right away. Don't do it. And if you are replying to an email, the very first thing you should do is clear out all the names. Don't type a single word until all the names are removed. This should be standard practice, as it does three very important things for you:

(A) It keeps you from making a mistake and sending the email too soon. Maybe you weren't done writing it, maybe you hadn't proofed it, but some how you might accidentally hit send. If there's nothing in the to: field, it doesn't go anywhere. If there's a name in there... you just messed up.

(B) It sets the tone for you mentally. You just cleared out all the names. Why would you do that? Because things are about to get real, yo.

(C) In the end, when you do get ready to send it, you have to put all the names back in. You have to type them in and, when you type each name you will think about the recipient. You'll be forced to think of them as a real person and forced to consider how that very real person is going to react to your strongly worded email.

2) Use big words

No, really. Don't be superfluous or unnessesarily verbose, but be very particular and unambiguous in your choice of words. Intentionally using big words enables you to get greater usage out of your linguistic skills but, more importantly, it slows you down and it slows your reader down. By being creative in your word choice you develop a way to execute your message instead of just gushing out emotion. It also makes the reader pay attention, so they know you put thought into your communiqué (yeah, I totally used communiqué incorrectly there, didn't I?).

3) Save the draft, then read another email

Write the email. Then save it and do something else. When you come back, read it again with fresh eyes... you know you forgot something. Or, you know that you said too much. In a recent email, I tried to lighten the mood by referencing Vincent van Gogh. Upon reading it back, I realized that it made me sound over-the-top egotistical and not at all like the silliness I meant it to be. Van Gogh got cut.

4) Admit where you are at fault

More than likely, you don't work for your parents. As such, people do not think you are perfect. And, in any situation where there is anger... someone is loading emotion into the situation. If you're angry, more than likely someone else is angry with you. Take the high road and admit your own faults in the situation. First of all, it lessens the opportunities for a volley of tough emails going back and forth over who did what... you already owned up to it and admitted you meesed up in some specific way - and you get to direct that conversation. Secondly, it helps diffuse the situation. As soon as you admit fault, the opposing party is more willing to look inwardly as well and admit any fault they might have had in the situation.

5) Quote other emails

I don't delete emails. Period. Having a robust history of communication is vital when confusion or questions come up. This is also when I try my best to recap important decisions made via phone or meeting in an email; there's a record to reference in the future. It's very hard to argue with a direct quote from an email someone sent you. Referencing previous emails gives a solid sense of timeline and responsibility; it also helps you to guide the conversation.

Do be sure, however, that you're not becoming "that guy" who throws people's words back in their face. Quoting an email that is in your favor is like a trump card; treat it with respect. Be sure, as well,l to quote accurately. Your arguement completely falls apart if you quote an email and someone comes back with a quote from a later date that makes your quote null and void. That makes you look either disconnected or manipulative. With great quotations comes great responsibility.

6) Talk about process and positions, not people

If things truly have gotten heated, start taking some of the non-essential human elements out of it. If a person in a specific position did a specific function because that's what they are supposed to do... then the issue is with the respnsibility of that position, not the person. The person did the right thing - but maybe the position is set up incorrectly. Maybe it should or shouldn't be empowered. Maybe it should or shouldn't be involved at all. But if it's about position and process, make it about position and process. When you involve actual people, things get skewed very quickly due to - and rightfully so - personal relationships and loyalties.

7) Watch pandas drinking milk

If you can watch this and still be angry, then one of two things are happening:

(A) You are justified in your frustration and trying to express your emotion may be neccessary or

(B) You are a cruel, cruel person and if you get in trouble for your angry email you deserve whatever fallout you get for being so mean.