I vividly remember the first time I received a prickly email. I was in my early 20s. The email was sent from my manager to me shortly after I joined the company. As I tried to recover from the strong tone, one of my peers, who was also on the email chain, messaged me on the side with a well intentioned “You’ll get used to that. ;)”
It’s not uncommon to encounter these situations that we’re triggered by. It could be a remark from a stranger, a post we’ve read, a comment from a family member or friend. There’s an urge to respond in a similar fashion or to try to ignore it – perhaps neither of which are conducive to progress.
The tactic that helped me to find my manager’s emails easier to digest was to read her emails in a completely different voice. This type of disassociation allowed me to extract her key points from the email – which were mostly very reasonable – without dwelling on the style of her message.
I have reflected on why I never spoke to her about it especially when there was ample opportunity for me to do so. I think it’s because – deep down – I knew she didn’t intend anything negative. Over time I’d become aware of some insecurities she’d been feeling in her role and I – without consciously realising at the time – must’ve had some level of understanding of that.