Posted by: chiarraigrrl | September 8, 2011

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled programming for an “etiquette” thought

I’ve been doing a fair bit of thinking about manners and so on lately (this may or may not stem from an ongoing row with our landlord’s representative, who acted like she was far too busy to deal with any problems to do with the apartment/complex, and the property management company, who are rude beyond belief. The phrases I discussed the other day probably didn’t help either, mind…). And I thought this idea (which I consider a matter of routine common courtesy, but it may not be, apparently) was worth bringing up:

Placeholder emails.

You can’t always give a full reply to something immediately. There may be parts of a problem or query that need further investigation, or you may have to ask someone – maybe even in another time zone – and wait for them to get back to you. What you can do, though, is acknowledge that the person contacting you with the query/problem has been in touch. Something simple – “Thanks for your email. I’m looking into this and will get back to you as soon as possible.” – makes the person asking the question feel better that the issue is being looked after, and means that you don’t feel the stress levels that a completely-unreplied-to email can give (Or, anyway, can give a responsible person. Rude people don’t seem to mind not replying to emails or phone calls…). Otherwise, they don’t know for sure if you’ve even looked at the email, and if there’s a delay in response they may think they’re being ignored (or worse, that you’re not interested in answering their query/problem. Which in a business environment could be the difference between having a customer or having them go somewhere else). My personal favorite placeholder email message? “Thank you for your email below, the contents of which we have noted. We will revert to you shortly.”. It’s practically meaningless, but it does what it needs to do, which is acknowledge that you’ve received the email and are doing something about it.

And as in so many other instances, manners (I’d say common courtesy, but it doesn’t seem so common) only takes a minute…

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