September 13, 2002 spout

Never Send An Email In Anger

I learned how to write good emails at the foot of the master — Don Box. Whenever we’d decide we wanted something, he’d grab his computer and say, Let’s write the email” and it would be done.

One of the most important things that I’ve ever learned about high-tech communications is to never, ever write an email in anger. Or, to be more precise, never *send* an email in anger. I encourage you to actually write it. It always makes me feel better. But don’t address it, because you want that email to first end up in your Drafts folder and go from there to your Deleted folder. If you address it and mean to press Ctrl+S to Save but manage to press Alt+S to Send by mistake, you might well be looking for work in another industry. If you don’t address it, however, Outlook complains and you can breathe a sigh of relief. Frankly, I wish there was an add-in that protected me even if I ignore my own advice:

Of course, this spouting could only occurred after I’ve violated my own advise, as I’ve often done over the years, always to my determent. When you’re angry, all you care about is making sure that your anger comes through. If I give myself an hour or two to think on it, when I come back to read that angry email, it always makes me flinch. Writing an email once I’m done being angry always yields the nicest, most thoughtful emails that I can write. Those I find to be *much* more effective.