A friend of mine was so frustrated with her job and her boss and her life that one day she poured it all into an angry email.
Within seconds of detailing everything she hated about the management and the working environment, she hit “send.” I’m not sure she’ll ever admit to regretting she pushed that button, but it wasn’t long before she was looking for new employment — and fortunately, she found it, and in a much happier place.
Venting through email (or text, tweet or any other rapid-fire technology) may seem like a good idea. You immediately get the anger off your chest and don’t have to let it fester.
But by taking the time to compose the message, you’re making yourself angrier — and the long-term effects can be surprisingly negative, say experts.
Anger researcher Ryan Martin Ph.D. has had his share of angry emails from disgruntled students. The messages are typically full of bolded words and lot of vivid punctuation. Even if the student has a great point, the message often is lost in the angry presentation, he says.
“Part of the problem with the angry email is that it really a lot of times ends up minimizing whatever points you had in the first place,” says Martin, chair of the psychology department at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. “They may actually have a good rationale for why they’re angry, but it’s kind of hard to see with all the explanation points and all the capitalized letters.”
Why we do it
There appear to be two main reasons it’s so appealing to send a quick electronic missive in the heat of anger.
“A lot of times when people have anger problems, it really is an impulsivity problem. They can’t control their anger reaction, and email brings out the worst in us,” Martin says. “It’s so quick and so easy. You used to have to wait until you saw a person or you had to call them. Those things take time and the anger would diffuse itself. With email, you can respond when you are in the moment, when you are the most angry.”
The other reason it’s so easy and appealing is the element of social distance. It’s relatively painless to yell and be not so nice when you don’t see the person on the receiving end of your anger. Plus, you can keep going and going until you’ve unloaded all your vitriol.
“The closer you are to someone, when you are looking them in the eye, the more likely you are to pull some punches a little bit,” says Martin. “With email you can rant. They can’t stop you, they can’t walk away, they can’t cut you off. It’s very easy to just unload.”
But if you were to confront someone in person when you’re angry, you would take cues from their body language. If they looked upset or angry in return, you’d respond accordingly. They could interrupt you or just decide they weren’t going to listen to you anymore. Then the amazing rant you’d prepared wouldn’t happen or would get cut off midstream.
Read More: Here