How to respond better to “anxious” emails
Over time I have recognized a pattern with my emails. I know that some senders or topics are likely to be filled with anxiety, such that upon opening them I become filled with anxiety. I hate that feeling.
In order to deal with this more effectively, I have created the “later” file in my inbox. Whenever I see one of these potentially anxious emails, I give myself permission to move it to the later file, so that I can deal with the anxiety in my time as compared to letting it cloud my whole day.
In the article, How to Deal with Anxious People, Mark Goulston says that when we are anxious, our minds constrict, meaning it takes everything in our power to avoid moving into the “fight or flight” brain where we would do or say something to make matters worse. In this state, we are not open to hearing new ideas, much less holding onto or following through on them.
The key to dealing with these anxious situations is to talk with people to help them relax and indicate that together you can find a way to work things out. Of course this is more difficult in an email exchange where you are not able to see body language and where words can be misinterpreted. Goulston suggests that your tone and approach to these anxious conversations helps to move the exchange to a more productive place.
Hence my later file. When I move the email to later, I give myself the chance to respond at a time when I feel calmer and have a greater chance of achieving the right tone. I also give myself a better chance of responding from a place of openness to what may be a difficult discussion. Of course, sometimes I overproject, such that when I open the emails, they are not anxious at all. It was perhaps my state of mind at the time.
My “later file” strategy has been very helpful for me to feel better both about not losing a day being anxious about the original email as well as feeling bad about a reactionary response.
Perhaps it is only me who has this challenge. But in case not, it may be a helpful tip for keeping your cool during the warm weather – and beyond.
Questions for consideration.
- Do you have regular email patterns that make you anxious or reactionary?
- What strategy can you put in place to help you achieve better outcomes and feel better yourself?
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