General Question

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Taiwanese colleague is extremely rude to me via email. How can I tactfully put her in her place?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (5663points) January 11th, 2017

She is not my superior in the company and frequently sends emails that are shouting. Uses caps lock. I don’t know if this is a cultural difference or not but it’s incredibly frustrating, and I’ve almost lost my patience more than once.

I know not to take it personally because she is often pretty rude to others. I’m pretty good at rolling with things, but when I get shouting emails with bold, italics and caps locks at 8 am…well, that’s where I draw the line.

Her latest email:



This has been going on for a while. How can I respond to this?

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31 Answers

snowberry's avatar

Can you collect them and bring them to a superior, explaining what you have done to resolve it on your own?

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@snowberry Not really. We’re a small international company, and we all work remotely. The bosses are in Australia. We’re both based in NYC but rarely see each other face-to-face or chat on the phone. It would likely need to be communicated via email.

janbb's avatar

As a freelancer, you don’t have much leverage about how clients treat you. You pretty much have to suck it up or walk away from that job. That being said, I see no harm in writing an email and asking her politely if she could ratchet it down a bit.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@janbb She’s not the client. She’s another contractor who works for the same company.

She obviously doesn’t like me for some reason even though I’m exceedingly polite and respectful to her. Apparently, she doesn’t respond to that or perceives it as weakness! She often undermines me and tries to throw tacks in my path.

I don’t care if she likes me or not, or why she feels the way she does. I won’t try to ascribe reason to that which is unreasonable.

If I write her an email, I need to be direct.

Cruiser's avatar

Apply the Fluther Rules of Engagement and simply ignore it. Your silence will be a loud enough message to this person.

zenvelo's avatar

Responding to “put her in her place” won’t work. Ignore her if her email doesn’t require a reply. If it does require a response, just cc: your manager.

ragingloli's avatar

You could run the Navy Seal Copypasta through Google Translate into Taiwanese and send that in all Caps.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@ragingloli That is HILARIOUS. You’re a bad influence! :-p

SergeantQueen's avatar

Start responding back to her in CAPS lock. That’s what I’d do.

jca's avatar

I would politely tell her that you have noticed she can be condescending and rude in her emails. I’d say “I’m always polite to you and I would like the same in return.”

Since she is not your client, and her emails piss you off, I see no harm in telling her you noticed it and would like it to stop.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Ignore everything not required for the job, respond as necessary to get your work done. Maybe let her know all caps is considered impolite, pose it as helpful advice.

gorillapaws's avatar

I would be direct and respond back. Something like:

“Dear _____,

The tone of your email is rude, condescending and unprofessional. All caps is not appropriate in business communication, and certainly not acceptable when communicating with members of the same team. We’re on the same side. Let’s focus on producing quality work together.


jca's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace: Please let us know what you decide to do and how it works out.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Sorry guys. I actually broke form and opted out of the high-road with this one.

I responded with:


Actually…not sorry.

janbb's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace It won’t get your point across because that’s her SOP but good for you!

BellaB's avatar

Does home office provide a standard writing guide for its employees? all of my employers over the past few decades have provided mandatory business communication courses – some online, some in person.

If they don’t, perhaps you could suggest it.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

This maybe an aside but are your reviewing or critiquing her work?

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@janbb What can I say. Sergeant Petty reported for duty this morning! ;)

@BellaB No. It’s a super small, fly-by-night company. Another colleague and I tried to introduce a writing guide and effective communications guidelines but it kind of got sidelined by leadership.

@Tropical_Willie No. Just providing her with materials to use per our boss’s request.

BellaB's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace ,can you present it to them again – as an ’íf you don’t mind, I’d like to share this with my colleagues’ thing. That approach sometimes works.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@BellaB I think I’m going to let it lie for now but if it comes up again, I’ll address the etiquette issue directly.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

In the few dealings I have had like yours I feel it is cultural. Email correspondance is either like this or under assertive. If they have no leverage then you get the softy treatment. If they have leverage you get the hardass approach. I have found standing up to the hardass approach usually is met with the other party being more reasonable. Business dealings in other cultures are much more rigid than westerners are used to.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace Why are you the pipeline for workflow? Sounds like she must do the same thing to the home office. Yikes !

jca's avatar

@LeavesNoTrace: I’m curious to see if she responds.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Thanks for the insights. My other colleague is a friend of mine and she’s from mainland China. Her approach is very professional and friendly and she also gets annoyed with the Taiwanese colleague. The cultures are indeed very different across Asia.

@jca I don’t think she will. But I have a feeling that she got the message.

tinyfaery's avatar

Not gonna lie. I Would have sent an all caps message, too. Sorry. Not sorry.

CWOTUS's avatar

Is this your only foreign (or ESL) correspondent? I’m only asking because none of this seems so bad to me, but I suspect that there are cultural differences that you (and your colleague) may not have communicated to each other.

I read multiple emails, reports, process descriptions and websites from India, China, other places in Asia, and several places in Europe daily as part of my own job. While I haven’t had to deal with ALL CAPS messages – and yes, they can be tiresome to read! – I do have to read through Chinglish, Hinglish, Paklish, Frenglish, Swisslish and Germlish – including unfamiliar and strange (even non-existent) vocabulary, tone, case and tense, mostly in technical terms and descriptions… and just deal with it. Sometimes I offer gentle correction to those I don’t know, and with whom I will have to interact a lot to see how it’s received and to start additional dialog, or I kid or straight-up correct those whom I know well, and who I know want to improve their writing… or mostly I just ignore it unless the technical writing can cause (or does cause) clear misunderstanding or error.

If a simple “Please don’t write messages to me in ALL CAPS, because it’s hard to read and seems rude” doesn’t get the point across, I guess I’d just learn to live with it. (You might consider that as an ESL correspondent she may not have much familiarity with lowercase letters. Since uppercase and lowercase letters frequently do not resemble each other, this may be her best way to write a message that can be proofread – by her – before sending.) Of course, you could always learn Chinese…

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zenvelo's avatar

^^^Flagged 6:43 a.m. PST 1/1/7/17

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snowberry's avatar

From your quote of some of the messages she sent, even if they hadn’t been in all capitals, her messages would still have been rude. That said I think you’re just going to have to cut your losses and keep going because it seems to me this one is absolutely clueless, and they likely wouldn’t care even if they did understand how rude they are being.

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