I had someone request me to send some questions about a product re-launch based on my experience with the product. As requested, I included questions to address the positive and problems experienced with the old product. I outlined the questions I had based on my experiences – both good and bad – and clicked send.
Apparently, that was a big mistake. The email I received back was not what I expected. My words were called bullying. I was described as a caustic. It turned out this person only wanted questions that reflected the “good”, not the problematic areas of the new product launch.
How was it emotional abuse? The words in that email hurt. My core values of integrity and honesty were attacked. I was upset. I was furious. I went through the questions I sent again to look for anything that might not have been truth or could have set off this firestorm of criticism and accusing. I’d had some peers and my husband review the questions before I sent them. No one saw any problems with my questions.
After receiving the email response, I reviewed my questions for at least fifteen times. I thought I saw two questions I could have reworded. But, they were based on a poor experience with the product. I was kicking myself because I assumed somehow, someway this was my fault and what the leader said was true.
I was preoccupied with options. I thought about responding to the accusations with my own accusations. I thought about posting the email online. I thought about just walking away with no response. I was miserable. I wanted to cry, but no tears would come.
I gave the email and the leader 100% of my thoughts, my emotions and my time. It took me away emotionally from my family that night. I couldn’t think of anything else!
That night I tossed and turned and could not get to sleep. That "voice in my head" was still churning thoughts of anger, hurt and revenge instead of sleeping. Finally, at 2:00 AM, I grabbed my pillow, headed for the sofa and tossed and turned in the living room.
Finally, at around 2:30 AM it dawned on me to pray. I am a woman of faith and always try to do that before all decisions, joys or frustrations, but this time, it never entered my mind until now. So, I prayed about my hurt. I prayed about my frustration. Finally, I prayed for guidance. It came quickly. I knew I was to send a very short response using the formula I have used several times when needed: 1) Apologize. 2) Ask forgiveness. 3) Move on. No more. No less.
A peace and more importantly, sleep finally came. When I woke up the next morning I sent my two-sentence email and didn’t give it another thought. Yes, I received an apology back which was nice, but really, I would have been fine without it.
When I was a little girl bullies bullied face-to-face. In this technology world we live in, we can be bullied and abused electronically. Moral of the story – watch your words and check your motives before sending a response in anger or frustration. If possible, pick up the phone or go to someone face-to-face to resolve the issue.
Bullying and verbal abuse is wrong in any form. Always. And if you want to NOT get into a back-and-forth email firestorm, remember the words that came to me at 2:30 am: Apologize (for the other person being upset). Ask forgiveness (for typing something that upset or caused anger even if not intended to be that way). Move on (let it go and get on with your life). You will be able to sleep and enjoy life much more.
If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, click here to learn more about an online course I co-authored with coach Darlene Larson: How to Empower an Emotionally Abused Woman. It will give you tools and methods to break free: