You may have to choose your words carefully in responding to this situation.
As a teacher, relating with students’ parents who complain incessantly could be tiresome. It is one thing to manage such complaints; it is another thing to cope with a rude remark either one-on-one or via email from a parent.
In responding to a rude email from a parent, you need to be aware that the person on the other end is emotional, hence the lack of courteous words used. Anger is often the emotion behind these rude remarks; and most people who think logically end up managing their anger better.
Replying a Rude Email from a Student’s Parent
In handling an email from a rude parent, there are some things you will need to put into consideration:
Avoid Logic but Be Expressive
There is no need to be logical with a rude parent. Showing through your email that his anger is unjustified could cause an unnecessary “flare up”. However, you need to point out the fact that you consider some words used as inappropriate.
Pointing to the inappropriateness of words in the email content is crucial. Everyone deserves some courtesy and you may have to politely remind the parent that. However, telling the parent you consider him or his remarks to be rude, may not pass across the message you intend.
You may have to choose your words carefully in responding to this situation.
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Use the Right Words
Do not write: “I consider your remarks to be rather rude sir (or ma)”
This could be perceived as a counter attack since you have been attacked in the previous rude email. It may lead to further unwarranted confrontation.
“Please sir (or ma), I do find your remarks rather inappropriate regarding this situation.”
Here, you are focusing on the remark used by the person and not directly attacking or calling the parent rude. Do note that this also specifies that the inappropriate remark was related to a particular situation; insinuating that the parent has a right to express himself (or herself).
Often times, when people are treated with surprising courtesy after a rude remark, it tends to have a way of channeling the conversation to the right path of conflict resolution. Courtesy is very crucial. It shows professionalism and communicates to the parent. It presents you as capable of handling the challenges in the line of your duty which is obviously the source of the conflict.
The fact that you do not respond to a rude email with hurtful words is a sign of maturity. Hurling abusive words via email will aggravate the delicate relationship with the parent, and will appear to support his/her position already expressed in the email.
The email should be brief. Avoid long explanations and never try to make the parent understand all that is on your mind via the email. If possible, use it as an opportunity to schedule a one-on-one meeting. Your word should be concise and clear.
Never make an attempt to defend yourself, it leads to more attack. Rude people do not care how you feel. Their aim it to get their points across to you in the most obnoxious manner, inflicting hurt in the process. Read and reread the mail to understand the points the parent is attempting to pass across.
State the points clearly in your reply. This is to be sure that what you have read is what is in the mind of the parent. This way, you show that you have gotten the point being made, even when the points may be absolutely unreasonable. This way, you appear to have shown empathy even when you do not agree with the opinion strongly expressed in a rude manner.
“I understand you do not appreciate the fact that the school chose a new textbook for our Arts students…”
Never be emotional with words. Keep the communication line open. Although, you have received an email laden with inappropriate words; by keeping the communication line open and encouraging the parent to express himself or herself and asking questions in areas he is concerned could disarm him or her.
Sample Email for Replying a Rude Email from a Student’s Parent
Dear Mrs. Redding,
Hope this mail finds you well.
While our new curriculum does not involve those activities you desire for your child, it has other things which are geared towards adequately preparing our students for college. This new curriculum is used by all private and public schools within the state after it was duly approved by the government.
We believe the extra-curricular activities earmarked for this term are sufficient. These activities were picked by seasoned educationists with the sole purpose of ensuring our students received enough exposure to face the world out there.
We are committed to seeing our students stand shoulders high among their equals. This is why we have employed the services of a team of dynamic professionals to put these activities together and enforce it.
We understand your concern about the quality of education your child is receiving; however, I found some of the words used to express this concern rather inappropriate. I will suggest scheduling a meeting to discuss this matter with the school administrator.
Please do let us know other matters you are concerned about and wish to share with us. We are committed to serving well .
Thanks and best regards.
Restate your commitment to providing quality service. Show that you appreciate the fact that the parent spoke up regarding the situation (do not unduly stress the inappropriateness of the mail). Ensure to copy the school administration if necessary, especially if the matter involves the school’s policy or a recent decision made by the school management.
In the case where the school’s policy is the crux of the matter, be sure to reiterate what the school stands for. In order words, never say negative things about the school or try to distance yourself from the school’s position. This is not only cowardly but also the peak of disloyalty. Even if you do not support the school’s policy or position on a matter, you may politely direct the parent to the school management without showing your position (which may be right or wrong). If the policy or position of the school conflicts with what you stand for, you may resign or just live with it. It is far better than disloyalty.
Finally, give clear factual information. Clarify doubts. Calm fears. Parents atimes react the way they do out of sheer concern or fear.
Written by Teju Duru; a communication expert and freelance writer based in Ibadan.
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