A Wall Street Journal article (October 21, 2014) discusses how to recover when you break the eleventh commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Send Email in Anger“. It is all too easy to hit SEND when you are angry. Don’t!
No “Recall Email” Button Available
OK, so it still happens and now you regret it. Can you recover? Yes. You need to grovel; truly apologize with no qualifiers. Own your mistake 100%. If you can do it in person immediately that is best. If not, the phone is the second best option. A short apology email followed by a promised phone call is the minimum. The WSJ article has several examples.
Group Emails in Anger
Sending an email to a group that sounds angry (even if unintended) is MUCH harder to recover from, yet you need to try. Know that an angry group email is like standing on stage and yelling at someone when there is an audience. The audience will almost always side with the person being attacked … even if you are right and they agree with your criticism. The short, sincere apology to all — ASAP — is essential. Know that you will probably never fully recover with everyone.
Email is not a good medium for communicating emotions or complex ideas. Use email wisely and you will have few regrets.
You are right … recovery is very painful. Thinking about the consequences beforehand may help you keep the eleventh commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Send Email in Anger“.