Learning to express displeasure politely invites a civilized discussion and increases the likelihood that the other person will accept your point of view.
This was a lesson that a Harvard Business School professor apparently did not consider before sending a series of arrogant emails to a Chinese restaurant owner whose prices did not match those that appeared on the restaurant’s website.
This example holds important lessons for people in the workplace, particularly for managers and others in leadership positions. In any delicate situation, maintain your poise, whether you are writing or speaking. Recognize that you might not know all the facts, and if you learn that the situation is not what you think it is, you will be embarrassed for speaking too soon, and your credibility will be tarnished.
If you are upset at someone — perhaps you feel wronged, or an employee made an inexcusable error — the real reason you are communicating is not to express your anger. It is to motivate the other person to change his or her behavior. And for that to occur, you need for that person to understand and accept your point of view. The more calm, reasonable, and positive you are, the more likely you are to get your desired results.
Ken O’Quinn is a professional writing coach and former Associated Press writer who conducts corporate workshops on business writing, persuasive writing, and corporate communications writing. He is the author of Perfect Phrases for Business Letters (McGraw-Hill), which is available here at Amazon.com.