Xin Fu: The Martial Art of emailing: Avoid flame wars
Have you ever experienced the taste of a flame war email? Those emails containing heated arguments between two individuals that keep exchanging personal attacks instead of debating the topic in a face to face meeting.
Mastering the Martial Art of emailing should help you take control of those “flaming emails” without hurting anyone or hurting yourself.
So here is some Xin Fu rules to handle flame war emails.
1. Do not ignite the flame.
“The fire you kindle for your enemy often burns yourself more than them".
It’s so easy to initiate a flame war by email but you should never initiate one.
You should also pay attention to the tone of your email and who you send it to since Flame war can also be initiated by mistake.
2. Do not lose your temper.
“Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it”
René Descartes ( French Mathematician)
Flame war is a question of Ego. You hurt me so I will hurt you back. You have to master your Ego and keep a certain self-control. Is it a real attack or do you simply perceive it like that? If you do not have a good relationship with the sender, chances are that you may misinterpret his email. Sometimes, your temper may slightly change the interpretation you are making of an email.
3. Do not respond to simple/stupid attacks.
“Nobody can take away my strength since I do not use it. The best technique is to avoid combat.”
Master Ueshiba Morihei, 1883-1969
Always avoid combat and do not fear the one who is making a lot of noise. Do not kick back by jumping on the reply button. It will only encourage the sender to add oil on the fire. Do not fight back unless your position is critical and remember that the most dangerous fighter is always the one who remains silent.
4. Do not answer it directly
“Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.”
SunTzu – The art of War
Do not react on the first negative stimulus which reaches your Inbox and gets you away from your main tasks. If you feel that you need to answer, you should meditate it. Leave it in your draft until the next morning and read your answer again. If you are not sure about the tone of your answer, ask somebody you trust to read it in order to see how it would be interpreted.
5. Be short and not too strong.
“If you walk, just walk. If you sit, just sit. But whatever you do, don’t wobble.”
If you feel a response is needed, be short and not too strong. Do not spoil too much energy on those emails. Moreover, showing too much of your fighting stance will be like showing your next movement to your opponent. Besides, everything you may throw at them might be countered and come back to hit you. Always remember that the only way to answer a Yang attack is to be Yin
In a Flame war, practice the grace and self-control of the white crane but do not fight like a tiger with tenacity and power.