When tensions run high and tempers are short

Ever catch a flaming e-mail right in the throat, wonder, “Why are they so angry with me?” and then fire right back? Wonder is your cue that there’s something you don’t know. Ironically, it frequently is unrelated to you: they’re having a bad day; they’re really angered by someone or something else; they aren’t actually angry. Don’t respond as if you do know.

  • Ask a question.
  • Wait to answer.
  • Don’t respond at all.
  • Better yet: assume they could use your grace, your tact, your understanding and ignore the flame.

Respond to the issue at hand and leave the fire to flame itself out. 

Jay Parkes
Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Graduate Education
College of Education
University of New Mexico

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