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Updated: October 3, 2022 101

101: How to deal with email frustrations

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a text that says, “K” or just “fine”? If so, then you know what it’s like to feel personally victimized by a written message. Nothing will knock you down a peg or two faster than a passive-aggressive text, whether it was intended to sting or not.

The same goes for email in the workplace. It’s been around for long enough it too has developed its own type of language. If you want to communicate effectively in the workplace, here are some strategies to help with your email game.

Use the right phrasing. It’s okay to feel annoyed if someone doesn’t respond to your email right away. But one of the worst things you can do is follow up with a friendly reminder or a circling back, Minda Zetlin, a journalist writing for, said. “Here's the thing about circles. Once you start going around them, you never come to the end,” Zetlin wrote. “So ‘circling back’ suggests that the sender will keep sending follow-up messages, again and again, until they get a response.” A less confrontational alternative would be to say, “In case you hadn’t seen this,” Zetlin suggested.

Don’t respond if you’re angry. You shouldn’t go to bed when you’re angry at your partner, and the same rule applies to work communications. If you’re stewing over a message from a colleague, a client, or anyone, it’s best to wait until you calm down to respond. “This prevents miscommunication, wasted time and regret,” Erica Dhawan, founder and CEO of Cotential business management consulting, wrote in an article for CNBC. “If you feel emotionally hijacked, save your email message as a draft and revise and send it when you’re in a better mood.”

Don’t try to be funny. Just like in texting, things like sarcasm and humor are tougher to suss out in a work email. If a joke lands badly or is misunderstood, you might end up annoying someone or even hurting their feelings. “Emails can easily be misinterpreted through text without context,” the Glassdoor Team said in an article on its website. “Humor is culture-specific. Avoid both humor and sarcasm in e-mails as the recipient may be confused, or worse, offended.”

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