I post a lot about my experiences with other onliners to share how email can potentially affect how you are perceived. Running this site and many others, I am probably more exposed than most in regard to the number of inquiries and “personalities” I run into on a daily basis. Today I’ll share a situation that happened recently.
Ask and I’ll Answer — Honestly
This is a business site so I do expect a certain level of professionalism and decorum when I am asked for my input. It is surprising how many do not do so when emailing me and asking for my advice. These folks tend to also be the very same who do not, let’s say, appreciate my response.
As is always the case I respond point by point in a professional and courteous manner with no thought given to whether my response is one that is expected or desired. I’m asked for my advice and I provide it. Honestly based on my decades of experience.
When I do not respond as anticipated, these “business folks” get defensive and accusatory. They did make the first move by asking my advice, didn’t they? Why resort to assumptions about me that have nothing to do with the topic at hand?
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
One emailer asked about how to setup a certain type of marketing emails on their server. They also mentioned they would use email addresses found on websites for their marketing email activities.
First off, their inquiry wasn’t about Business Email Etiquette — the topic of this site. It was about server functionality in regard to handling emails. Even though the question was not on topic, I took time to offer my suggestions. Including, the need to be careful of spamming. They mentioned that they planned on sending commercial emails to contacts that did not specifically and directly ask for information from them. I simple commented on the dangers of doing so.
That’s when everything fell apart! How dare I assume they were spammers!? I didn’t; I just mentioned to be careful. I work with clients every day who assume that publicly displayed email addresses gives them cart blanch to email their business promotions to those who did not ask for their information.
Then came, “How can I sleep at night treating people this way?”
How can I sleep at night???? Sheesh…
You Know What Happens When You Assume
I didn’t assume — I simply stressed a concern based on the information provided. Who is assuming here? I don’t appreciate being replied to in an inflammatory manner because I simply tried to offer advice based on the content of an inquiry. As far as sleeping at night — I have no problem there thank you very much!
As I always do, I tried to kindly smooth things over. No go. An overreaction of this magnitude was not normal nor based on anything I actually typed. Assumptions were flying everywhere with my character and experience being questioned with the use of adjectives that were clearly an overreaction. Verbiage that is never used by true professionals.
The lessons to be learned?
- Make sure your emails are clear.
- Do not assume the other side knows what you know but didn’t take the time to state.
- Kindly clarify with the needed additional information if necessary.
- Don’t read into a reply what simply isn’t there.
If you are on the receiving end of an over reactionary emailer, do your best to communicate with the clarity they were unable to offer. If that doesn’t appease realize that there are some emails that are just not worth responding to.
To turn to insults and innuendo because you were not clear, may have been innocently misunderstood or because you may not like the advice given, will do nothing but reflect on your lack of professionalism and integrity.
What have you done when you were misunderstood by someone who over reacted and responded with an insulting tone? Were you able to smooth things over? Let me know over on Twitter use #AMABizEmail or Faceybook.