This happened to me today and I'm still trying to digest it. To give you some context, I'm working on IT at a company with several branches across Europe. I don't hold any position of responsibility but my team is very horizontal, meaning that we have to interact with other teams from other departments as well as from ours. Sorry if what follows sounds like a rant, which it might be. Please forgive my English, too.
This morning I experienced a harsh reaction from other team's TL to one email I just had sent with him in CC. This TL and I work in the same department. It struck me as odd and totally out of place, since I never had a problem with this person. I'd say our work relationship has been very professional and I'd even dare to say that it's been even friendly: we share acquaintances and ex-colleagues, including one of my past bosses; we worked in the same IT sector in the past, so we have had conversations sharing our experiences; and he also had lent me some printed material related to my current job.
Going back to what caused his reaction: I sent an email this morning as a reminder for some actions that should have been taken care of three weeks ago by one of the members of his team (I'll call him John). This email was a self-reply to two previous emails sent by me that had been ignored by John. Only this TL and mine were in CC in these emails. I also had discussed several times during the last three weeks this issue with John. The issue is an important technical detail related to the technology we're using that could have catastrophic consequences in terms of availability and data integrity for our IT services. This claim is supported by vendor best practice and recommendations. Our manager is not aware of this issue which could have serious consequences for our department. To give you some more context, the actions leading to this issue are related to a crisis our whole department had to manage three weeks ago. I'd like to make clear that I'd've never thought of reporting this behind their back to him. I'd like to add that John might need to answer in the near future for what happened during the crisis leading to this issue, even though he wasn't the sole culprit. I'd also like to mention that John and me are in good terms and never had a problem at work.
Before sending my email, I had consulted with another member of his team if it was OK to send another reminder keeping his TL in CC. This person is one of the most technically savvy members of this team and agreed with me that his team is sitting on a ticking bomb because of this issue having been neglected by John. He's also a certified professional in the technology we are talking about.
Now, let's get to John's TL's reaction: As I was walking to a meeting with other members of my team, including my TL, we stumbled upon John's TL. He faced me and asked me what that email I just had sent meant, it was a long email and he needed to know what it actually meant. I replied that it was a reminder about an important topic we had talked about weeks ago. He insisted that it was too long and difficult to understand and couldn't see why I had sent it to him (I think he didn't notice my message was actually a short and very clear one. The whole email appeared to be long due to two previous emails having been included in my reply.) I replied that the email was actually addressed to John and that he was in CC, so he was aware that I was suggesting John that this issue shouldn't be forgotten because it was important. Noticing a possible escalation in the conversation my TL intervened and said that his response was out of place. He made clear that his tone wasn't appropriate to address a colleague. This seemed to have caught him off guard and remained silent. We continued on our way towards our meeting room. My TL recommended me not to worry about what happened, he assured me that he would manage it afterwards, which he did. My other team mates concurred that they were stunned by his manners. I cannot thank enough my TL and colleagues for their immediate support.
I'm the type of person who tries to avoid confrontation. I still can't figure out why this person reacted that way. I know his team is under a lot of pressure, but that doesn't justify his behaviour. I'm concerned about future interactions with him, since my job duties include attending meetings with teams from different departments in my company, his included. I'd like to come clean and talk to him about it when things settle down. I somehow feel that he might have misunderstood my words. What can I do to defuse this situation? Am I overreacting?
Thanks so much for your time and understanding.