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Happiness Tip: Ignore a Distressing Email

Rude comments on this blog (we don’t post most of them) and mean emails (yes, I get hate mail for writing about happiness) tend to reach an all-time high at this time of year: the holidays can be a hard time for folks emotionally.

Stress levels run high, and people have to deal with difficult family members and challenging emotions.

Studies show that people are more likely to be hostile and aggressive online than they are in their face-to-face communications. The anonymity of the Internet can block people’s self-awareness, making them less in-tune with their emotional states. This makes it harder for people to control their behavior and engage in rational conversation.

Nasty online communication is a phenomenon called “flaming.” Research shows that when people flame, their comments reflect how they were feeling before they read (or heard, or experienced) whatever they responded to so angrily. We may think we are engaging in an intellectual debate, but actually, we are just acting out the funk we were in before we read that blog post that supposedly ticked us off.

Take Action: If you get a nasty email this holiday season, consider ignoring it for a while before responding. Instead, practice compassion. Is there a heated emotional situation that you know they are dealing with that might have spilled over into email?

Join the Discussion: Have you been “flamed” this year by an acquaintance, or even by a close friend or family member? How did you respond? Share with us by commenting below.

Are you tempted to flame someone? Here are some reasons to hold back.