How to Answer that Frustrating Email
Is there anything more frustrating than coming up with a great piece of link bait or a really cool web application, and it going right over your client's head? They don't get it at all, and in fact they become very defensive. Worried that you all of a sudden don't understand their business model and what their objectives are with the website, they respond to your idea with criticism and fear.
I found myself in the same situation just the other day. What made it more frustrating was the fact that this had happened before with the client. Maybe it was a case of the Mondays or maybe I have a shorter fuse than I realize, but I was really irritated. I was really excited about my idea/strategy, and now I'm being forced to defend it over and over again. I don't think it was the fact that I had to justify my idea that made me mad; it was the way the email was written to me. I hate dealing with clients that talk down to you, and I was dealing with that very thing.
I instantly started writing my reply to him, but was interrupted (thankfully) half way into it. When I went back to finish my email I read where I had left off and couldn't believe my tone. You could easily tell how irritated I was, and I knew that would only make things worse. Lesson one: never write back right away to an email that pisses you off. I decided to get up and go for a quick walk. It is amazing what a ten minute stroll can do.
I got back to my desk and scrapped my original response. The first thing I did was skim through the belittling comments made, and get right to the questions. I pulled them out one by one, and just focused on them. It made it a lot easier not to get worked up again. I wrote out my responses and proofread them after they were all written to see if I had injected any rude tone or comments myself. I didn't notice anything wrong, so the next task was crafting the opening.
Writing the opening sentence to an irritating/rude email is probably one of the hardest things to do. Try and keep your cool and keep it as brief as possible. I wrote out a short sentence and sent it off. I had copied a few of my coworkers on the email and they instantly said, "Wow, you sound really degrading in this email!"
I started panicking. "What do you mean? Which part?"
"The first sentence. It sounds like you are saying to him, Ok, here are the answers but try and keep up.' But the rest of it looks great."
Just that one sentence opening can ruin it all, though. Lesson two: have someone proofread your email response when you are pissed off. Luckily, the client didn't seem to upset about my response.
There are going to be many times when you get frustrated with your clients. You're in the fast lane because you're an expert in this field, but your client can't always see the picture as clearly (even if you have trained them.) Take a deep breath, take a walk, and have someone proofread your email for you before you send it out. You might not be as lucky as me if you don't.