ASK THE STRATEGIST: I So Wish I Had Not Posted That
January 31, 2011
A respected human resources professional recently had what Oprah would call an A-Ha! moment. A few days ago, Jerry (not his real name) sent a rather snarky and menacing email to a person who allegedly offended him – and mainly his wife – by spreading “innuendoes” and “false accusations” among people they both know. Jerry threatened to seek legal action for defamation, contact the offender’s clients, and distribute a communiqué detailing the perceived offenses to anyone who inquires about the showdown between the two.
Jerry’s main concern was that his wife has been distraught over the incidents that led up to his electronic rant session.
Unfortunately, Jerry accidentally sent the email to the person who offended his family through a Listserv to which I belong.
How can Jerry clean up this mess?
The first thing Jerry should do is acknowledge his error in sending the email to the Listserv group. He should then contact the person referenced in the rant directly, and apologize for taking the situation to an entire group of more than 5,000 people (the offender is on the Listserv, as well), which was totally inappropriate.
Jerry should then self-impose a cool down period of one week to let the emotions subside so that he can tackle the slight by his colleague and deal with the real issues at hand rationally, and like an adult – without the threats.
Sometimes, when we are ruffled, we fire off emails and don’t always check the recipients to whom we send the fiery responses. In this case, those of us who knew nothing about the intense situation between two human resources professionals unwittingly became drawn into the drama when Jerry pressed the send button.
Jerry can use this experience as a lesson in learning: some things are better said face-to-face when someone offends us. If we do choose to hide behind the false sense of anonymity the Internet has cultivated, at least ensure you get your message to the right recipients.
DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes, and are solely her opinions. Take the advice at your own risk – and betterment!