The morning started out like any normal day. I got up, late, debated showering, didn’t, and got to work. I sat down in my ergonomic chair and waited for my computer to turn on as I debated between the caramel or French vanilla K-cups. My computer turned on, and I signed on as absently as usual, still partially asleep and thinking about coffee. I’m probably the only manager at my company who doesn’t have my work email on my phone, but I’m a firm believer in leaving work at work, mostly because I don’t get paid enough to deal with bitchy clients after five. I opened my email. I skimmed as normal. An unread email popped into my line of vision from my boss, and I clicked on it.
It was worse than a bitchy client.
One of my bosses had sent me a brief but very peevish, very abrasively rude email after I had left work the day before. What kind of sick fuck sends an email after you leave the office, when there’s little to no chance of resolving anything until the next day? What could she possible have to say that couldn’t wait until the next morning, in person?
The email, sent after I’d left the day before, started without any sort of introduction – never a good sign. It proceeded to go after me for a bunch of random shit, like missing a day at work because I’d had the flu (which I really did) and foraying into a long-winded explanation of other things I was doing wrong, none of which had merit. It finished with a sort of panicked, frantic note about how busy we were. Then it ended.
I sat in my chair for a full ten seconds, re-reading the email and letting it sink in. Sending a harsh after-hours work email is related to the two a.m. rule—nothing good happens after two a.m., and nothing good can come out of sending a mean email after hours. My boss, the one who had sent it, was already in the office, so now the weird look she’d given me when I walked in made sense. There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t send an after-hours dick email, but one of those reasons is that there’s a good chance the recipient of the email isn’t going to read it until the next morning. The next morning is a new day. The frustrations and late-afternoon crankiness of the prior day have worn off, and the problems of yesterday seem less serious. You will almost always feel guilty or at least a little stupid the next morning when you watch the recipient of the email have their morning be completely ruined by your trash talk of the day before. If you’re actually having an issue with an employee, call them into your office and hash it out. Don’t send a mean email after hours. It’s the equivalent of a sucker punch.
My boss was much harsher and much more of an ass than normal over the safety of the Internet, but that safety is short lived when you’re ripping a new asshole to someone you see everyday. After that email, things were awkward. An email is not a conversation, which has a definitive ending when each person stops talking. An email is forever. You can re-read every expletive over and over again. And I was pissed because despite my boss’s erratic panicking, I’d certainly done nothing to warrant having a dictator-esque email launched at me before coffee. I didn’t know what to do after I read it. I sat in my chair, seething with righteous fury. It was the beginning of the week, for Christ’s sake, and I was coming off of a three-week whirlwind of conferences and acquisitions. I’d done an awesome job, and I knew it. There was absolutely no merit to her snapping at me other than her inability to deal with stress, which as far as I’m concerned is her problem, not mine. You know what they say: if you can’t handle the heat, don’t send a dick email, or however it goes.
I’m sure there is more than one way to deal with this kind of atrocity. However, I chose one based on how well I know my boss. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t yell back at her, or shoot her off a rude email in return. Neither did I apologize, because I’m ballsy like that and I was pretty damn sure that the email was largely a result of stress and not related to anything I was actually fucking up. I was polite, and frosty, to her all day until she cracked. She sent me another email, this one apologizing for the one she’d already sent. I leaned back in my chair and sipped my green tea. Mission accomplished. .
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