Want to blow up a business relationship? Try this on for size (trust me, you’ve seen this pattern):

  • Take a colleague’s email, comment, or behavior out of context. Assume the worst.
  • Write an accusatory, abrasive email back to them. Include things you’d never say to someone face to face. Make the tone nasty or snarky.
  • Copy someone else – preferably that person’s boss or an important colleague
  • When you get a defensive response (don’t worry, you will), amp it up some more and then copy more people. For extra points, ADD ALL CAPS SO THAT YOU’RE SHOUTING. I love that one.
  • Wait about 30 minutes.

The relationship is ticking…

Want to salvage an important business relationship? Try this instead:

  • Notice when a colleague’s email, comment, or behavior bugs you.
  • Stop for a few minutes.  Ask yourself what bugs you about it.
  • Remind yourself that it’s entirely possible that there’s more to the story. Assume the best, not the worst, about the person.
  • Remind yourself why this relationship matters to you and to the other party.
  • Pick up the phone – or better yet, walk down the hall. Be human.

This is emotionally harder and doesn’t feed those big barking dogs called Revenge or Vindication. But if the relationship matters, those dogs need to go to sleep anyway.