In a healthy workplace it is unusual but in any workplace it can happen: a supervisor takes out his or her frustration on those who work for them in an unfair or unhealthy way. It may be in the form of public criticism or a biting email. Whichever, it leaves the staff member feeling disempowered, demoralized and sometimes angry.
What should one do?
Nothing - until the emotions have cooled. But, once they have it is usually prudent to express one's discomfort with the kind or tone of the communication in a respectful way. This does several things. First, it makes it clear to the supervisor that you are unwilling to be treated in a disrespectful way. Second, it clears the air. Third, the supervisor will usually back down and apologize. If they don't they know that they cannot be careless in their communications.
Supervisors are human and get irritated. We need to give them space and we hope they give us space. But, we need not accept careless behavior on their part toward staff. Respectfully pushing back sends a message that you will not tolerate disrespectful behavior.
(Posted from Miami)