A member of GaryNorth.com recently posed a question:
Should you call people out on email etiquette errors?
Example, there is a person I often work with in my company who:
1) Sent an email to me with a simple request, and CC’d my supervisor. My supervisor has complained to me in the past that he gets too much email. But now that he has been included in the chain, I have to include him in all replies — good etiquette. He doesn’t really need to know or care about this simple request sent to me and that fact that I have completed it. He’s delegated complete and total responsibility to me in this area. So when I have to include him in 3 or 4 emails back and forth, I feel like I am clogging his inbox. Now, if I had totally blown off the request (not even replied) and this person wants to email me a second time, and also include my supervisor — thereby properly escalating the issue, sure, that’s understandable. But including him on the first email is totally unnecessary, and, completely annoying.
2) Sent me an email, the first email on a new topic, by replying to an old email I sent, without changing the subject line of the email. E.g. new email is on “Topic B” and subject line reads “Topic A”. Again, a little frustrating when I see my inbox and I see “Topic A” in the subject line. My first thought is, “What now? I thought Topic A was resolved days ago!”
About twenty-five years ago in the workplace, I became annoyed at the behavior of a person that I occasionally interacted. The behavior didn’t fit my view of proper conduct. Note that the behavior was neither illegal nor violated company policy; it just didn’t fit my perception of normal behavior, rubbed me wrong, and I took offense.
I spent some amount of time and energy at work taking offense and crafting plans and actions to rectify being rubbed wrong. Of course, I knew it was all the other party’s fault, and that I needed to fix that other party; hence, the action plan.
The time and energy I spent pursuing resolution of being rubbed wrong was noticed by my boss, who invited me into his office “for a little chat.”
The conversation started with his statement that he had noticed I was spending time and energy on this matter, and he then asked me to state what problem I was trying to resolve.
I went through the problem as I saw it and the solution as I saw it, and he then responded with: “Which of your performance objectives does this problem prevent completing?”
After a lengthy pause, I responded: “None.”
My boss then informed me that I was being paid to accomplish predetermined objectives, which did not include correcting the behavior of others; such objectives being relegated to others (such as management). In other words, it was his job to assess and correct the behaviors of employees, particularly when that behavior affects the accomplishment of those predetermined objectives. Hence, the reason for the present conversation.
My boss then instructed me to cease and desist from spending additional time and energy in the workplace on my original problem of being offended by another person’s behavior, but to notify him of any issues that prevented me from accomplishing those predetermined objectives assigned to me. He would then address the issues for resolution, if required.
Being a sagacious manager, he wasn’t rubbed wrong and didn’t take offense that I had been majoring in minors off performance objectives, and spending company resources doing so, but merely informed me that being rubbed wrong and taking offense were not requirements of being herein employed; they were personal choices, and I was free to choose otherwise.
What amazed me was how much happier and productive I became when I took his advice and chose not to be rubbed wrong and offended. After all, I was not being paid to do so.
I’m still amazed.