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View Full Version : Do Slightly Snarky Emails Piss You Off?


DMark
02-28-2009, 03:51 PM
Maybe I have thin skin.

I have taken on some new job duties and one of my tasks is to contact students to make sure they are keeping up with their assignments.

My "boss" is someone I have never met - they are in a different state - and they send me weekly lists of students to contact.

Even though I contact the students as quickly as possible (lots of unanswered voice mail messages and emails sent by me), it is not always easy to get the students to respond quickly - if at all. I have expressed this several times.

This boss-from-afar is now starting to add "please make this a priority" to her emails...as if I am sitting around doing crossword puzzles and surfing porn instead of trying to reach unreachable students.

I know they are just words, and maybe even a standard phrase she uses to other people in regular emails, but it still pisses me off.

There. I feel better.

So, any words or phrases in emails that piss you off?

Harriet the Spry
02-28-2009, 04:11 PM
It sounds like you have been put in a no-win situation. Does someone really think hiring someone to send emails to students who are not keeping up with assignments is going to accomplish something? What's the real problem? Was the original assignment not communicated clearly? Is the prof a wuss who can't hold students accountable for not completing it? If you can be a resource to students who are struggling with an assignment, that has some value, but reminders? WTF?

If it will make you feel better, add "please make this a priority" to the emails you send to the students :).

LSLGuy
02-28-2009, 04:23 PM
The problem you have is not one of tone, but of substance. Clearly your boss thinks you're goofing around or inept. She's trying to be polite, but she thinks you're not doing (part of) your job.

The fix is to talk with her directly live real time by phone and ensure you have a common understanding of what a reasonable success rate is. If your best efforts are producing a 10% hit rate and she assumes 80% is a given while a good worker would do 90%, well ... the only thing that leads to is you getting a bad rep and or becoming unemployed.

Go fix that. The tone will take care of itself.

anu-la1979
02-28-2009, 04:56 PM
When I first started practicing I'd often communicate with my private sector attorneys (I structure private-public transactions) via email and their snarky bitchiness used to piss me off. Now I contact them on the phone and the only email contact is a written list of my objections to the transactions. They're complete pussy...cats, can't say it to my face.

The second thing is that I stopped reading a snarky tone into stuff or giving a shit about it if it was indisputable. The truth is that most people are unnecessarily snarky because they have to cover up deep insecurities in themselves by trying to bring other people down or they're just assholes to the core. I've discovered that there seem to be very few people who go into a conversation without trying to undermine the confidence of th other people involved-most human beings can't resit trying to unnecessarily mock someone or rattle them...for no apparent reason. Professionally, I've trained myself to stop caring and I just make myself...unhelpful and inaccessible till they start treating me with a modicum of respect (this works for me because I get to control access to money other people want). Personally I still get pissed and teary about it but I'm working on that.

Anyway, the real answer to your question is that if you get that sense, take it off email. It's easy to read things into written communication. I can be very concise on email when I'm unsure of the other person's personality. I loosen up when I feel like the other person isn't going to hold shit against me or misread me. I've also found people have more difficulty being verbally snarky when confronted with a "what did you mean by that?" though exceptions exist.

Sitnam
02-28-2009, 05:24 PM
I have quite a different problem, I worry about writing snarky Emails. I try to be as concise as possible when writing and all too often I think I come across as curt.

PunditLisa
02-28-2009, 05:57 PM
My "boss" is someone I have never met - they are in a different state - and they send me weekly lists of students to contact.

Even though I contact the students as quickly as possible (lots of unanswered voice mail messages and emails sent by me), it is not always easy to get the students to respond quickly - if at all. I have expressed this several times.


Perhaps you could word your voicemails and emails to the students more strongly.

"The deadline to respond to me is this Tuesday at 4pm. If I don't hear from you by then, I will notify (the boss) that you failed to respond."

DMark
02-28-2009, 06:21 PM
Perhaps you could word your voicemails and emails to the students more strongly.


To make things a bit clearer: my new task it to contact students who are taking courses online and perhaps not completing assignments or going online often enough to be considered "present" for these courses.

Thus, if they are not going online to do assignments, chances are quite good they are not going online to read emails either, or their computer is broken, or their internet is down, or they had to leave town for an emergency, etc. etc. The students are also not eagerly awaiting my phone calls to chit chat about why they are not doing their assignments or going online. They are in no hurry to call me back.
In other words: You call, you email and you get zip.
My boss-from-afar knows this.
That is why the "please make this a priority" sticks in my craw a bit - what else do you want me to do, go to their house with a sheriff and haul them down to the registrar's office?

Like I said, it could be that she just uses this pat phrase in all of her emails and is not even aware of how it comes across. I only mention it as, again, maybe I have thin skin at the moment, but the inference kind of irks me.

twickster
02-28-2009, 06:57 PM
I think you should BCC her on every single email you send on her behalf.

Antinor01
02-28-2009, 07:34 PM
Not an email but instant message from my boss. I was getting someone to cover my desk if anything urgent came up and she decided that I had been asking one person too often. (I hadn't been) She sent me a note, "She takes on too much already, why don't we ask [name]?" (note the use of WE, when she means me) So I IM the other person to ask, then let my boss know that I'm waiting for a reply. She answers "Why don't you get up and go ask her? Wouldn't that help build teamwork and camradarie? What do we think?" I really, really wanted to reply "Why do we have this tool if you don't want me to use it?" but decided against it.

I could go on a long rant about this, because she really is pissing me off lately...but I won't hijack. :)

Heffalump and Roo
02-28-2009, 08:46 PM
I think you should BCC her on every single email you send on her behalf.
Or perhaps send her a list of the people you're e-mailing along with a list of your tasks. Maybe she thinks you have a bunch of tasks you're doing but wants to make sure this one gets to the top. If you're clear in your list of tasks that it is being given the most attention, she won't have to worry about it.

Magiver
02-28-2009, 08:48 PM
I had this problem a couple of bosses ago. You HAVE to take charge and demonstrate your time management/accomplishments. I use to keep a journal of what I was working on and how long it took to do it. It didn't matter that I was his "go to guy" for related problems he was having. He automatically thought every spreadsheet I wrote for every project took 15 minutes to compile. Some of them took 40 hrs to develop and test.

The less a boss understands what you're doing the more likely he/she believes it's easy. My last boss was very computer savvy and would ask me to email him any "grinders" I developed for quick and dirty analysis.