Monday, November 05, 2007

Any suggestions?

There are a couple of ladies in main office of the law firm where I work who will periodically send out mass e-mails with pithy religious sentiments and/or poorly thought out political essays.

These folks are not attorneys, but are the sort of staff who have a great deal of power to make your life suck if they decide they don't like you. I have a bad record of pissing people like that off, though I've managed to stay off of the radar screen at this job so far.

Today's email (A screed about how much the world hates us, what we should do to the terrorists, how we shouldn't give out money to people starving in other countries, and how we should deport illegal immigrants) ended with the words:

If you agree with the above forward it to friends...If not, and I would be amazed, DELETE it!!

I am tempted to do what I always do and heed the advice of the email and delete it.

But part of me would also really like these folks to stop it with the Jesus and the conservative politics.

I'm half tempted to use one against the other and email back saying that I follow the teachings of a carpenter who told us to take care of the poor. But that's not entirely true. And it would probably get me even more Jesus e-mails.

I'm also tempted to say that I find the emails sort of distracting and to please stop sending them to me. But I really don't want to cheese these people off. So maybe not making waves is the best idea.

Any thoughts?



Toonhead said...

Give the e-mail a one finger salute then delete it. You don't need to piss off the staff and the kind of people who would send that sort of thing often misinterpret polite requests.

Joel Monka said...

There are no good outcomes to confrontation, period. I say this from work experience dating back to the 70s, when such things were posted on the bulletin board or copied and laid on desks before one arrives in the morning. The fact that they are motivated enough to send them means that they will resent any corrections or requests to be dropped from the list- or worse yet, they might get their feelings hurt. Proving they're in the wrong actually makes it worse emotionally, not better, no matter how it is put. One can fantasize about all kinds of replies, but in the real world the only answer if you plan to stay there is to presume they mean well, and ignore it.

Stephanie said...

Totally agree with toonhead and joel.

The flying under the radar strategy in the workplace is highly underrated in my opinion. It is a survival strategy. Besides no matter how you respond to them, it will not get the response you seek.

Anonymous said...

I concur with the others. There is no way to stop being on the mailing list for these emails without ticking someone off.

Perhaps there's a way to automatically junk these kinds of chain letters.

Lilylou said...

I agree with the others, CC. I have this happen with some frequency from old friends who don't know that "Unitarian Universalist minister" probably means I won't much appreciate the assumption that I love all things Christian. (Did that make sense?)

Dancer in DC said...

I'm afraid I have to agree with the other commenters. As great as it would feel to speak with some higher-ups about the inappropriateness of those emails being sent around, it will somehow work its way back to you.

As soon as you seen an email like that, delete it without reading it, and move on with your day, doing your job.

PG said...

I only have a total of three years of experience in the desk job work force (totting up 2 years working between college and law school, and various summer jobs and internships), so everyone else's advice is going to be better than mine. But I'm a little surprised that that sort of thing is tolerated in a professional office. Do the emailers in question mass mail it to everyone? including the partners? I could imagine anti-Bush jokes getting emailed around the Legal Aid office, but people did not mass mail stuff in any of the for-profit nor professional association offices where I've worked. It was understood that people had different politics and that such things should be kept to your own cubicle.

Anyway, I'll depart from everyone else's advice and recommend that you send an email saying something like,

"These emails are really interesting and thought-provoking*, but unfortunately I get distracted easily and end up getting behind on work when I'm reading them and sharing them with other people**. I just don't multi-task as well as some folks do! Could you send them to this email address ([insert email address you'll never check again]) instead of my work address? That way I can enjoy them at home. Thanks!"

* Hey, "whoever sent this is an idiot" is a thought the email provoked.

** You just shared it with us during work hours. Distraction!

Steve Caldwell said...

It's possible in most email programs (Outlook, Mac OS Mail, Thunderbird, Evolution, etc) to set up email filters that will automatically move email from your inbox to a folder where you don't see it.

You can do this based on the sender, particular words in the subject line, and/or particular words in the email message text.

For example, you could create a filter that moves any email with the words "Jesus" or "God" to folder for later review and deletion (I wouldn't automatically delete them -- it's possible that a legitimate work-related email might contain "God" or "Jesus" as an expelative).

A listing of other filter key words might also be helpful as well -- UN, terrorist, immigrant, bible, prayer, etc.

This filtering of your email will improve the "signal to noise ratio" of your email inbox. Maybe you can call this the "Dale Gribble" filter?

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm going to risk diverging from some very smart people who have already commented. Of course from the professional advancement point of view you are best off saying nothing.

But I think there may be a moral/ethical issue here. The e-mail you linked to go beyond merely annoying, into the realm of hateful rhetoric against immigrants and impoverished people. Consider whether you have a moral obligation to speak up.

If so, then maybe there is a way to approach it that is not self-righteous or going to cause an office firestorm.

Maybe you could send an e-mail back saying: "On the subject of immigration, here's another article that I found interesting" and then cut and paste something that expresses your own opinion on the issue. You're not saying anything directly about what they wrote, but the implicit message is quite clear, and maybe you'll give them something to think about (or maybe they'll just figure sending you these messages is more trouble than it's worth). Of course, you have to use your good own judgment on this.

Chalicechick said...

I don't know that I will respond but you may have hit upon why of all the e-mails I've recieved, this was the one that really sort of upset me.


Anonymous said...

Can you anonymously deliver to the HR department? If these people are using work email, then they technically should not be using work email for such activities, and HR has the right (and the duty) to respond to this. (Of course, it doesn't help if someone at HR is doing this.)

TheCSO said...

CC works in a small office. They don't have a "real" HR department, just an office manager.