How to reply to a sarcastic email without getting defensive

Table of Contents

Don’t Take it Personally

• When receiving a sarcastic email, it’s important not to take it personally. The sender may be having a bad day or dealing with other issues. Assume positive intent and don’t let it get to you.

Take a Breath Before Responding

• It’s easy to fire back a sarcastic reply when you feel attacked. But that tends to escalate tension. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself before crafting a thoughtful response.

Respond Professionally

• Kill them with kindness. Reply professionally and address the content of their message, not the tone. Taking the high road diffuses the situation.

Clarify if Needed

• If you’re unsure if their message was meant to be sarcastic, politely ask for clarification. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Redirect the Conversation

• If the sarcasm continues, redirect the conversation to focus on solving the problem at hand in a solutions-oriented way.

When All Else Fails, Walk Away

• If someone is committed to communicating disrespectfully with sarcasm, sometimes it’s best to politely disengage. You can’t control their behavior, only your response.

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