Recently I received an email that really frustrated me. In fact, I felt angry, confused and agitated; the email caused me to question the level of trust I had in a particular situation. Knowing I should not respond to the email in that frame of mind, I decided to forward the email to my husband and vent to him about the situation. I banged out a few sentences which contained a lot of exclamation points, question marks, an oh. my. gosh. A WHAT??!! And closed with an ARG!!!
Later, I asked my husband if he had seen the email, he said he had not, it must have been caught up in is spam. Guess what? It wasn't in his spam, apparently I had hit "reply", not "forward".
Oh. My. Gosh. WHAT??!! and ARG!!! Indeed!!
I didn't realize I had done this until three days later — when I received an email back from the person to whom I had replied. Technology plus frustration equals not always clear-minded actions!
Though my response was intended privately for my husband, it was an honest reflection of what was going in within me. Although I wished I hadn't portrayed myself in such an unflattering manner, I didn't use language that was inappropriate, I didn't belittle anyone, I didn't say anything that wasn't true.
As soon as I realized what happened, I knew I had to tell this story. The lesson for me is to have a level of integrity no matter what, because my character can be revealed at any time. Who am I when I am unpolished, unedited, frustrated and even angry? What do I reveal about myself? I wasn't thrilled when I realized that email had gone to the wrong person, but I wasn't mortified. (Thank goodness I continue to grow in my character, because there was a time when I would have been horrified by words and tones I would have used.)
After realizing what I had done, I gathered my thoughts, wrote out an appropriate email addressing my frustrations, listing my questions with a calm but assertive manner. I did say that I understand tone cannot necessarily be understood in an email, although the tone in the one intended for my husband likely was and I apologized. The recipient said he took no offense and appreciated my honesty, even in the first email. I appreciated his grace.
This may be a cautionary tale — character will be revealed, sometimes much to our surprise. Warning: next time we find ourselves responding to an email, we should breathe and take a moment to make sure we are actually doing what we are intending to do!