Our customer support folks at Team EssaySnark got this email recently:
Today we’ll offer up some Curmudgeonly Old-Person Snark advice on how to email.
“‘How to email’?!? C’mon EssaySnark, I’ve been emailing since I was born! I know how to email.”
Ah, Grasshopper, but do you?
Please go back to that email and think through what it conveys.
You can scroll down to see what WE think it conveys after you have done so.
No really, did you think about it? What are your thoughts? Or are you just scrolling straight to what we think? Use your own thinking first, Grasshopper!
Let’s start at the beginning. Here is the situation.
1. This person is emailing a generic customer service account at some company.
2. This person is likely frustrated that they don’t have access to the product that they thought they should have access to, and harumph dang it, they NEED access, and now have to frickin jump through some hoops and d@mn what a hassle.
Who knows if that’s all of it, but likely that covers 75% of what was going on in the head of the sender. Writing this email is a reflection of that person’s state of mind at the time, which — we’re only guessing here and extrapolating based on very few facts — was probably some form of irritation, impatience, and possibly anxiety too, if this person is sending this note because they were either a) invited to interview at Stanford (yay!) and want the help of our essay guide, or b) put on the waitlist at Stanford (F__k!) and need the help of our essay guide. Or, it could simply be a Round 3 applicant who realized that the deadline is fast approaching and got wound up with the stress from that (ack!! sh!t!!).
Regardless of which it is, we can assume that some degree of emotions and a sense of franticness may have been involved, thus the brevity of the request.
Let’s move on.
As a recipient of this email, what would be going on in the head of the Team EssaySnark person?
Well, think about it. If you were a customer service type worker, what would be your reaction to getting that email?
Because — and here’s our #1 point to offer today: Even when you’re sending an email or request to some big (or small) corporation on the internet, it is always a person who reads it.
This email-sender clearly was taught good manners by their parents. There’s a “please” and a “thank you” in this message.
There’s even a modicum of a salutation.
But on the whole, well hm.
It does not exactly come across as a request now, does it?
This person was asking for assistance on their account. It wasn’t that there was a technical issue with the EssaySnark servers. It’s not that the EssaySnark service had let them down or was not functioning properly. This person had bought a subscription to one of our essay guides, and that subscription had expired. They were asking for a gimme. “Please give me access even though the access that I have paid for is over.” (Plus, 10 minutes to 5 on a Friday. That’s fun.)
It’s like walking into your gym after you canceled your membership and demanding to work out. For free. When you have not paid anything for it.
Therein lies the rub: This email comes across as a demand. Not a request.
When you’re asking for help, then the tone of your ask kinda matters, don’t it?
Yes we understand, this person was in a hurry. They were probably emailing from their phone and we know how sucky it is to try and write an email on a mobile.
But we didn’t even get a subject line on it, and we definitely didn’t get any warm-fuzzies or sense of gratitude in how it was phrased.
Technically there’s nothing wrong with what they sent in; again, they have the requisite “please” and “thank you.”
But it’s kinda like when you’re in an argument with someone and they pop off with an “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
As if the “I’m sorry” in that sentence counts as an apology.
Um, no. That “sorry” is not a “sorry” it’s a backhanded attempt at asserting your own righteousness.
EssaySnark may be of a dying breed, of those who care about good manners, who believe that taking a bit of time in crafting even an email correspondence is the right way to interact with a fellow human. We have a surprising number of posts talking about such things here on the blahg.
But check it out, Grasshopper.
At least for now, and into the foreseeable future, the people who control your destiny are more likely than not to be wired like EssaySnark. Those making the admit/deny decisions on your MBA apps. Those determining whether you’re a good fit for their company. Those wanting to offer you a job or who you will report to up the chain in your new company.
Not all of them care. But a lot of them do.
Call us the dinosaurs who are still occupying space in corporate America, but we exist out there. And until you Millennials have completed your takeover of the world, you’ll have to deal with us.
Making us dinosaurs happy — or at least, not being an irritating schmuck in your interactions — might help you get where you want to go in life a tiny bit easier.
You probably are totally not interested in but you may want to read anyways:
- First Impressions and Ongoing Professionalism: Email Etiquette
- A simple suggestion for all you Millennials making your way in the world.
- How to contact the MBA admissions office.
PS: If you’re really wanting to be kind to a customer service person on some internet site, and efficient in getting your request addressed, then include the username you used to register or the correct email address that you signed up under. Don’t make that poor schmuck dig around to figure out who you are. It may also help to keep in mind: You’re probably paid way more than any customer service person in a public-facing role is — and your job even on its worst day is probably way better than theirs. It’s always nice to be nice.
Final PS: The BSer who wrote the email that prompted this post ended up writing a very quick but very sincere thank-you after their question was answered. So we know that they were not intentionally being curt! But that’s why we’re writing this reminder, as it’s when we’re not thinking that it matters most.