01/17/2014 10:48 am ET Updated Mar 19, 2014

Worst Email of the Week

An email arrived from a friend who runs a business course for entrepreneurs. Her new sessions start this week.

"Hi Erin. I noticed your article about poorly written emails and I had to share one of the worst emails I have ever received. This arrived in my inbox today:

Dear Virginia, I need to decline for Friday's seminar. My Mom is not doing well and it looks like I need to fly out of town immediately. I need to prioritize and this event is not that important to me. I will keep your class in mind for the future."

At first, I thought, "Well, it's not the worst email I've ever seen. Clearly her family takes priority." But then I re-read the message as if I were my friend who had been preparing this class with thoughtful intention.

This time, I felt a little sting with this phrase, "I need to prioritize and this event is not that important to me." Yeah, I could see how that might hurt her feelings.

We're told to strip our emotions from business and not take things personally. That's great in theory, yet I'm tired of being told we should shush ourselves every time we get pissed or feel disrespected.

Call it the ego or whatever you want. This quest for a quiet, positive mind is perhaps the most blatantly failed mission in spirituality.

One of my favorite bosses, Jamey Potter, once explained, "We're not responsible for our first thought, but we are accountable for the ones that follow. Those thoughts are the ones that must drive our ship."

Hearing that feels like salvation, even today. No need to deny our feelings or label them as negative. We can feel what we want to feel, and then act on the thoughts we trust. The word discernment comes to mind... the wisdom to know the difference. That's a skill I'd much rather hone, rather than silencing my mind.

My reply to her said something like, "Thank God the Universe diverted her attention. Sounds like she could have been fairly unappreciative and unresponsive anyway. Now you have some great, new marketing language: This class is for those with a burning, immediate passion to get their business off the ground! That will weed out the flakes, for sure."

Had the student considered her teacher, here's what she could have said instead,

Dear Virginia, please accept my apology for dropping out of class with such short notice. My mother is ill and I'm needing to leave town immediately. Looking forward to joining you next time around. Many thanks for all you do.

You see the difference? Can you even FEEL the difference? Everyone is honored.

Our written word matters now more than ever. With nearly 80% of all business communication happening online, this can either make or break our plans for success. As both the sender and receiver, it's crucial for us to take a deep breath and allow our inner wisdom to guide our words.