Monday, June 30, 2014

Pause and Delete: Sometimes Our Best Response to Those Passionate Emails We Receive

“Pause before sending an email. What do I want to see come out of this communication? The other party to feel diminished or encouraged?” Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace

Email has made it quite easy to speak your mind. How many of us are guilty of pounding out a scathing response to an email that we received from someone else who wrote from a moment of passion? Chances are, unless you’ve been asleep for the first decade of the 21st century, you have had your own experiences of composing and sending an email that did little to be helpful and much to be hurtful or detrimental to an already emotional situation. There’s something about email that seems to make it OK to speak to other people in ways that we would dare not speak to them in person.

This tendency to respond out of passion is all the more reason to “Pause” before sending that email when we find ourselves ruled by passion. A simple test I follow is this:

I ask myself: Will this email response be useful? And, as Sharon Salzberg indicates, “What do I want to see come out of this communication?” If the answer is harm to another person, then perhaps the delete button is the best option. If my email response will bring about harm to another, even in the spirit of revenge, then is it really expedient to send that message?

We don’t have to be discourteous and thoughtless with our messages. In fact, in our times, there’s just too much polarization and hate to go around already. Why would we choose to add more simply because it satisfies our own sense of revenge?

Today, don’t be afraid to “Pause” before sending that email-of-vengence.” If our message is harmful to others, no good can come from it. The delete button is sometimes the best option.

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