That is the question.
This is the final installment of our email etiquette series and could be considered one of the most important. We have all experienced rude (or perceived as rude) emails but have you ever thought about the proper way to respond? Since a contact cannot hear your voice in an email, it is critical to use the proper tone that cannot be misunderstood or discerned as being rude. On the other hand, when you are on the receiving end, it is important not to not jump to conclusions and automatically interpret an email incorrectly.
If an email is perceived as, or is rude, do not retaliate with a quick email response. Depending on the intensity of the email, it may be necessary to write a response that is never sent. Walk away from your desk and get your mind off of the email. It is best to let a few hours pass and then to reread your response. If the response is heated, revise or pick up the phone. While you may have perceived the email as angry or rude, that may not have been the intent by the sender. Unfortunately, our communication skills have fallen by the way side with the lack of formal letters and verbal communication.
The bottom line is never to assume what the sender means with their tone. It could simply be that they do not understand the rules of email etiquette. Pick up the phone and clarify the intent. The human voice is the best form of communication for clarity and alleviates any misunderstandings.