Have you ever sent someone an angry email? Maybe you were feeling frustrated or upset – and you reacted by sending something mean, abrupt, or sarcastic?

If you have, you’re certainly not alone. Most people have been guilty of this on at least one occasion. Technology allows people to respond to perceived slights almost instantaneously – often before they’ve had the chance to think about the situation calmly and rationally. When someone offends you, it’s so easy (and kind of satisfying) to respond with an angry text or email. But once that message has been sent, that’s it. It can’t be retracted. Even if you regret it later.

So what should you do if you send an angry email and then regret it? According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, you only have one option – groveling. Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center in Corona del Mar, California, says that you can fix the damage by doing the following:

  • Admitting that you were wrong to send the email
  • Apologizing sincerely
  • Asking the person what you can do to make things better

It’s best if you deliver this message in person or over the phone. Having an actual conversation with the person can be very beneficial!

Of course, this technique will only work if you rarely send out angry emails. If you send them all the time, you need to change your overall behavior. Before responding to an upsetting email, try to do the following:

  • Take a time out – Don’t respond immediately. Give yourself some time to cool down before you reply.
  • If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say much – Indicate that you are surprised by the person’s message, and then ask if you can get together to talk about it. Having a conversation face-to-face (or over the phone) will help you to avoid saying something that you might regret.
  • Think about the other person – Try to view the situation from the other person’s point of view. And try to imagine the type of stress that he or she might be experiencing. Thinking about the other person should help you to craft a reasonable and compassionate response.

Do you have any other suggestions about how to avoid sending angry emails – or repair the damage once an angry email has been sent? Please share your feelings in the Comments section below!


Bernstein, E. (2014, October 21). Thou shalt not send in anger. The Wall Street Journal, pp. D1, D4.