It’s not just people working in traditional office environments who must navigate the snarkiness of colleagues and clients. Those bad attitudes can exist–even thrive–in the faceless, expressionless, contextless world of email.
Take the example of a vendor of mine who emailed me to complain that one of her competitors had been invited to work with me on an upcoming project. The message contained words and punctuation–no images, video, or audio to simulate a face-to-face conversation–but the attitude was palpable. “Is this an official plan now, using both of us? It’s fine… I just need to be kept in the loop!”
First of all, I wanted to shout at the email on my laptop, whom I decide to work with and how often I work with them is entirely my decision. You don’t have an exclusivity clause in our verbal contract. Dial back the attitude, missy.
Of course, I did not type this into an email reply. I want to maintain professional communications at all times. But my initial reaction to this brazen display of bad attitude got me thinking: how would I have handled this confrontation if it had happened in my office instead of on my laptop?
Protecting the reputation of my company is a priority, and so is maintaining civility in any discourse with vendors and clients. No matter how rattled I might get on the inside, it’s important to keep a cool exterior. My professionalism demands that I show everyone at least some measure of respect, even when they misbehave. Having the veil of email between us actually makes it easier to think before responding… something I might not have done so effectively had that vendor been standing in my office whining about not being chosen first.
Deep breath. Count to 10. Engage brain before speaking. This is all good advice–for both the personal and the professional in all of us.