From the archives: how to write an angry email

We’ve all experienced it: someone says something really annoying or offensive, you search for a witty comeback and your mind goes blank. Three days later, in the wee small hours, the words come to you – “Yeah! But your wife looks like a horse!” but it’s too late, because the moment’s gone. Online, though, things are different. Time is on your side.

Writing angry emails can be an entertaining and rewarding hobby, but it’s important to know the rules. The most important rule of all is: never write an angry email when you’re actually angry.

It’s tempting, we know, but it’s a recipe for disaster. BANG! You hammer the keyboard with your meaty fists. SMACK! You stab the Send button with all your might. HAH! You sit back in triumph. ARSE! You’ve accidentally sent the message to your boss. We’ve read lots of business books, and we’re pretty sure that “OMG UR WIEF LOOKS LIEK A HORSE!!!!” won’t get you a pay rise.

The trick to angry emails is to stay cool. If your tormentor thinks they’ve got under your skin, they’ve won – but if you seem unconcerned, that’ll really annoy them. Never respond to their digs at you; instead, identify their weak points – everybody’s sensitive about something – and then exploit them elegantly. We’ve had good results with phrases such as “I’m sure that you are aware”, “I am surprised that you didn’t”, “If you really understood the subject” and “I’ve got your children in my cellar.”

[Originally published in Official Windows Vista magazine. The last bit didn’t make it into the printed version]