When used as a verb, “Flaming” is online slang used to describe when an onliner “sends an angry, critical, or disparaging email”. Back in the day, flaming was initially a term used to describe what would happen, what type of emails you could expect to receive, if you participated on a mailing list or discussion board and broke the rules or it was clear you didn’t take the time to read them.
These emails were seen by everyone on the board or list and sometimes a “flame war” would ensue.
There is no circumstance in business communications to flame another contact.
Remember, your business email address is your branding. If you get so upset with someone that you are sending an email that could be categorized as a flame, hit delete (yes, delete so that you have to start from scratch when calmer heads prevail) and wait until you cool off to respond — if at all.
Increasingly in our go-go-go business world where we don’t have enough time in a day, terse emails are increasing. And in some cases those Senders are not even aware of how terse their tone is! Publicly or privately chances are you may face being on the receiving end of those who are stressed, uninformed, disorganized or simply lacking in professionalism in their business communications.
How do you respond to a flamer – if at all?
Remember that saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”? This statement should be your guide when creating responses to business flamers specifically, and all your email in general. Yes, there will be times when it best to not respond at all.
If you find that you are flamed, it could be the Sender is taking that approach because they are having a bad day, misunderstood something you typed — or are just a plain jerk. Regardless of why someone may send you a ornery email; never respond in kind. Be better than that and respond in a courteous factual manner void of unnecessary adjectives and emotion.
If you are flamed because you did not pay attention to details or didn’t take the time to review available resources (including rules of participation), simply offer your humble apology and the “flamer” will probably understand. The last thing you want to do is flame back when you are in the wrong and risk the possible increased tarnishing of your business image.
Those who flame do so to get a reaction from you or at the very least make you feel bad. Don’t fuel the flame! If you were wrong, apologize — and the flame goes out. If someone is downright rude — don’t give them the oxygen that flame needs to stay ignited by responding. Simple!
When faced with rude, harsh or indelicate emails from online contacts, coworkers or business associates, always take the high road and if you must reply do so in a non-emotional professional manner. You may be surprised at the pleasant reaction that you will receive in response!