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How to Respond to Stress-Inducing Emails

How to Respond to Stress-Inducing Emails

Emails have a way of bringing about anxiety when someone important like your boss, a relative, or even a friend wants you to accomplish a task that you feel you cannot handle or you get distressing news. It could be an unfriendly reminder that your deadline is approaching, a new project you have to do on your days off, or you get a negative email from someone who is in a bad mood. Instead of avoiding the email or letting your anxiety get the best of you, it is best to approach this email with a good attitude and take your time responding.

Notifications

You may get notifications on your phone or your computer where you hear a sound notification that makes your heart jump. You can see the sender’s name as well as a sentence of the message. This sets you on edge because you are afraid to see what they want you to do. If your company tends to send you a lot of emails at a time and that notification sound is stressing you out, it is not worth it to feel those anxiety symptoms every day over emails. You may need to change your notification settings. Instead of hearing a sound, you can remove the sound and the email previews. Just limit the email notifications to see that number at your inbox when you choose to look.

Talk with Your Voice Instead of Electronically

Remember that emails may appear as harsh when you cannot hear the tone behind it. The person on the other side of the email may not realize how they are sounding in the email. To further clarify what you are asked to do, call this person or do a video conference so that you both can speak to each other in a calming matter and hear the true tone of the person behind the email. You have more of a connection with that person when you hear the other person’s voice compared to staring at a computer screen. Take that extra step to show that person how much they mean to you and that you would like further clarification talking about this in a discussion instead of electronically.

Pause Before Sending

Sometimes, your nerves can get the better of you which makes you click send before making sure what you responded is what you want to say. If this is an important email, you want to make sure that you do not write anything that you will regret. Read it to yourself for a few minutes and see if you would find this email appropriate if someone sent this to you. You can even read it out loud to a friend or relative to see if they find it adequate. You want to be confident that the answer you send to someone is the one you are comfortable with. Click send when you get to that point.

Write a Draft

Instead of telling yourself that this is an email that needs to immediately be sent, write it as a draft first. Do not feel like you have to automatically send it as soon as you finish writing it. By saving it as a draft, you will feel less pressure. This will give you the opportunity to add something in or take something out. Do not keep it as a draft for too long as the sender is expecting an answer. At the same time, do not be in a rush to send it.

Empathize with the Sender

The sender of the email you just got may sound irrational or harsh. Instead of being quick to judge the sender for their subjective tone, empathize with them before you get yourself anxious. They may be feeling as much anxiety as you do right now. The sender could be telling you about a project that is so dire that it needs to be done by the end of the week. You may be thinking that the sender is not thinking about you in that you wanted a weekend to do no work. It is important for you to think about what the sender is going through in how they are depending on you. They do not mean to put pressure on you but are just doing their job. 

Prioritize Your Emails

On some email systems like Gmail, you can prioritize your emails by category. Gmail has it where the emails come through separate tabs like “priority,” “social,” or “promotions.” This will make it much simpler in that you know the emails that you get from your boss are the high priority that you should answer. Any emails from friends and family, as important as they may be to you, can wait. Any promotional emails from places you have subscribed to can also wait since they are just advertisements. 

Unplug for Awhile

While you should not be ignoring your boss’s emails, you should also reply to emails when you feel ready. If it is your day off or during the weekend, do not wake up earlier than you normally would to check your emails. Continue on with the plans you have for the day since everyone needs moments outside of work to take a breather. By taking your time replying to emails and answering them on your own terms, your anxiety regarding emails will get easier and you will no longer be scared to answer them.

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