I live in the part of the United States that got hit with what the media are calling “Snowpocalypse.” Consequently, campus has been closed for the last two days, causing cabin fever and 3am e-mail chains.
One e-mail chain in particular came to me this weekend (while I was off of work), and the last two days (while campus has been closed). This student needed permission for a class, and each e-mail was increasingly filled with anger and accusations.
When I politely explained the circumstances of why she needed permission in the first place, why she is ultimately responsible for having changed her schedule last minute when I got her permission for the class once already, and why really the university was doing her a favor by letting her have permission for a class she technically didn’t meet the requirements for in the first place (hence the need for permission)…her tone completely changed. She used a lot of “lol” and “hahaha” in her final e-mail, stating that she wasn’t taking it out on me necessarily, but she just gets frustrated when she’s not in control.
Well, guess what…neither am I.
I can’t control the weather. I can’t put in permissions while campus is closed. I really don’t even have to respond to e-mails during a campus closure.
Part of succeeding in the working world, and really in your personal life too, is realizing that you aren’t in control of everything.
I’m a fairly “type A” personality too, but I’ve learned over the years that getting mad because something’s out of your control doesn’t make anything better. Having to back track from a string of angry e-mails makes you look unprofessional, and it will impact that person’s willingness to work with you in the future.
I admit, I’ve done it too. But especially when sending e-mails, tone matters. And once you push “send” you can’t take it back again.
Flexibility is a learned skill for some of us…but you can make an effort to improve both your attitude and your response to unexpected complications. Take a deep breath, understand that you can’t control everything, and think before you “send”.