I got into a fight with a friend of mine and out of anger wrote her a very nasty email with horrible language throughout the entire thing. In her anger, she spitefully forwarded this email to many of our mutual friends and some of my co-workers with no explanation about the backstory or anything. She wanted to make me look bad and she succeeded. Now I look like a complete psychopathic monster. I’m so embarrassed. How can I fix this situation?
You fix this by doing a couple of things. First, don’t write your crazy, angry feelings down in emails that can literally be forwarded all over the world. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll never do that again. We all fight, we all get angry, but you still have to be smart and not put that anger into shareable formats.
Second, don’t waste your time doing damage control with your co-workers and acquaintances. Since they’re not directly involved, it’s likely they’ll forget this incident when the next bit of juicy gossip floats their way.
Last, your close friends probably know some of the backstory and aren’t judging you as harshly as you may think. In fact, it may be hard to see now, but forwarding that email doesn’t make your friend look very good either. No one likes someone who is willing to air another person’s dirty laundry. In friendship, even during fighting times, there are boundaries, and you both crossed major lines, so you both look bad.
As for really “fixing” this situation, Abram Jones, a public relations strategist in Salt Lake City, Utah who deals with these types of situations on a corporate level says that “in scenarios like this, the most important words are ‘I’m sorry.’”
So say them, and say them soon.
You wrote what you wrote. It wasn’t the best move but you’re human, so go to your friend, explain that and humbly offer an apology. If the friendship is really worth anything, she’ll likely apologize, too, and this scandal will soon become a thing of the past.
Readers: Would you forward emails like this to make an “enemy” look bad? Don’t you think sending it to co-workers is a little below the belt?
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