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I lost my shit by email

(80 Posts)
Nicholashaslosthisknickers Tue 01-Dec-20 13:06:17

I know I shouldn't have done, I wish I hadn't and I've taken steps so that it won't happen ever again.

There is a backstory but I'm not sure it's entirely relevant, I will give details if it affects the ability to give me any advice.

I lost my shit via email. No swearing and no threats but lots of criticism of the other person and lots of criticism of their abilities. There were about five emails from me in total, growing in their anger as they went along. The recipient was very formal and didn't engage but was essentially asking me to do something that she didn't understand was an incorrect course of action. Think along the lines of 'you incompetent idiot'. I KNOW I WAS THE IDIOT for doing this.

The recipient was my former employer although I was self-employed and had no contract.

Can I get into trouble legally?

OP’s posts: |
jetadore Tue 01-Dec-20 13:17:37

Hard to say for sure without more info. Can you get in legal trouble for being rude in an email? No.

1stDecember Tue 01-Dec-20 13:20:30

I shouldn't think so, unless you copied the email to others. That would then be defamation. But you didn't "publish" it, so it wouldn't be.

I think.

enjoyingscience Tue 01-Dec-20 13:24:14

Not legally, but it might damage your reputation. People network, and the person you sent them to wouldn’t have to be specific about it, but could put prospective clients off working with you in future.

Is it too late to rebuild bridges if you need to?

MyOwnSummer Tue 01-Dec-20 13:36:48

It would help if more of the backstory was known. Did the other person's action or inaction put you in any danger of serious legal or professional consequences? Did they discriminate against you in some way e.g. race, religion, sex etc?

I guess the risk here is around what they might say to other potential clients that you might work with in future. And whether you want to salvage the relationship, if that is indeed possible.

The first thing to ask yourself is - what do you want the outcome to be (excluding turning the clock back). Then work from there - how can you best move towards that goal? That's where the specifics of the backstory become important, as the actions to support that goal will vary hugely depending on the context.

VladmirsPoutine Tue 01-Dec-20 14:01:45

Yikes! It doesn't put you in the best light. But there's no recourse to legal action over calling someone incompetent via e-mail, nor being rude.

stampsurprise Tue 01-Dec-20 14:06:04

You will be fine legally.

In future it's best to sit on those feelings for at least 24 hours before you unleash an email.

It'll be okay 😃

stampsurprise Tue 01-Dec-20 14:07:14

Oh and there's nothing to stop you writing an email taking back what you said. Or at least the way you said it wink

CSIblonde Tue 01-Dec-20 14:10:33

Well hopefully they don't network much at the moment given Covid, so it'll not be passed around that you can have a short fuse. It's difficult when people are being beyond dim & you call a spade a spade,but l learnt the corporate vocabulary to express it, after consulting a colleague who was better at corporate speak . So stuff like: I am concerned, I am disappointed , this could negatively impact (select appropriate area), from a legal perspective/ having consulted Legal, from a PR perspective etc.

vanillandhoney Tue 01-Dec-20 14:15:21

I mean, you're unlikely to get in any legal trouble but you'd better hope this incident doesn't get around.

Being self-employed, you have to be so careful how you treat your clients. People won't use you if they think you'll speak to them like that.

Timeforabiscuit Tue 01-Dec-20 14:21:55

Having worked in local government, my conversion to corporate speak is PERFECT.

By the sounds of things, you kept escalating with each subsequent email, you can either wholeheartedly apologise (after a cool off), or it might be on review the content isnt actually that bad? If it's coherent, with good spelling and punctuation then it is probably worse in your mind.

If you got the wrong end of the stick, and you ranted, that's when the ground opens up below you.

Peachy1381 Tue 01-Dec-20 14:24:10

Sounds like you need to really reflect on your behaviour so this doesn't happen again... one snappy email is understandable - we all have bad days - but five?! I mean after the first three did you not think you were getting a bit carried away? As others have said context is important, but certainly the main thing you stand to loose here is your reputation. I've chosen not to hire freelancers for less than this. Perhaps start by sending an apology.

grassisjeweled Tue 01-Dec-20 14:34:59

What peachy said.

Just move on. Learn from your mistakes

NiceandCalm Tue 01-Dec-20 14:40:01

You said it was a former employer, who asked you to do something that you thought/believed was wrong. You still think they were wrong but are worried about the ranty emails getting you into trouble?
I don't believe a ranty email would get you in trouble. If you feel bad you could fire another one off apologising for losing it and leave it there?
Without any more detail, it's difficult to comment.
For what it's worth, I lost my cool with one of my DS's teachers on the phone and hung up on him. Felt mortified later - caught me on a bad day, even though my points were valid. The Head of Dept rang me next day to say they understood I had concerns and how could they sort it. I took my opportunity to ask him to apologise to his colleague and he said, oh don't worry, it happens, we just want to sort it to your satisfaction! I felt relieved as I'd have stewed about being so mean.

haircutsRus Tue 01-Dec-20 14:41:59

If you are a book-keeper then I'm 100% on your side.

When I was self-employed, nearly all of my clients were twits and would not listen to me when I told them that no, they couldn't do X because of Y.
VAT seemed to be a particular sticking point, and no I wasn't going to bend the rules and do something I knew was wrong on their say-so.

helloxhristmas Tue 01-Dec-20 14:45:27

Don't ever put anything in writing you don't want to come back and bite you on the arse.

CottonSock Tue 01-Dec-20 14:46:01

You probably need to apologise?

Bluntness100 Tue 01-Dec-20 14:46:30

Did you copy other people in or threaten her?

Bluntness100 Tue 01-Dec-20 14:47:06

And have you apologised? How will you deal with it if she lets others see your behaviour? Ie she sends it on?

PuppyMonkey Tue 01-Dec-20 14:47:59

So, five nasty emails in a row? It does sound a tad excessive. Wouldn't a single: "Sorry, I'm unable to do XXXX due to XXXX." have sufficed?

Bluntness100 Tue 01-Dec-20 14:48:04

Did you actually call her an incompetent idiot?

TramaDollface Tue 01-Dec-20 14:49:39

No but don’t expect her to contact you again

Hoppinggreen Tue 01-Dec-20 14:51:00

Pretty unprofessional. I have had plenty of dickhead clients, I either charge them extra or refuse to work with them

GrumpyHoonMain Tue 01-Dec-20 14:53:06

Don’t rely on them for a reference but I’d say you’re fine legally if there wasn’t a reference. As you’re self-employed you absolutely must be agreeable to your employer - try and have a 1-2 hour policy for replying to emails (and include that in your contracts in the future). That way you don’t feel pressured to reply straight away and can cool off.

Bluntness100 Tue 01-Dec-20 14:55:09

The op hasn’t said if she threatened the woman or copied others in, so she might not be ok legally if she did either of these things, particularly as it seems she may have been abusive.

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