Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tone of written word

Have you ever been incredibly frustrated by an individual but still had to work with them, so that every time you talked to them or emailed them you had to be very careful about what you said/wrote? I'm having that problem right now.

I volunteered to be my school PTO's treasurer, which entails jobs like paying invoices. I received an email from one our committee chairs saying the following:
Mind you, she sent this to me today DECEMBER 1.

Hey ,

I wanted to let you know that I put the initial bill
in the PTO box. I've actually had it for awhile so you might need to act on it
pretty quickly. Sorry about that.

So, I go to the school and see that it was actually due NOVEMBER 1. This is the deposit for our yearbooks. No money = no yearbooks. I was rather upset with her, since if the yearbook doesn't get done in time I can be blamed for not paying the bill on time. So I wrote back the following. Now I tried, tried my best, to be professional and not let my emotion show through:

Hi ---,

I picked up the invoice today - it was due NOV 1 ?!? I don't know how long you have had it, but if we are late on paying them our yearbooks may be delayed in being published. We try to maintain a professional relationship with these companies so that they want to continue to do business with us in the future. Plus, with large checks, I have to have 2 signatures, so I need invoices as soon as you get them. I know this is your first year doing yearbooks, so you probably didn't realize this.
I just want to stress the importance of that, especially since we'll be ordering more with the renewed sale of yearbooks.

If you talk to ---- Publishing, please let them know the check should be in the mail by the end of the week.

Thanks for your help on this,


But then she wrote back. I guess I didn't hide my feelings very well. Read on.

---,(No hi, hello, just my name)

I think you could've gone about stressing how important you think being prompt in paying them is in a much less condescending way. I certainly don't need a lecture in being professional but I'll keep these things in mind in the future.


I wrote back again and apologized that she took my email the wrong way. I certainly don't want to ruffle people's feathers. I've already decided I won't do this job again but still... What do you think - was it condescending? How could I have written it differently?


wally said...

Yes, that person does need a lecture on how be professional. You had no reason to apologize. You're doing your job. He/she didn't do his/hers.

Theresa said...

SHE screwed up, and she was being defensive because you pointed that out. You didn't owe her an apology. Now you know why I refuse to do anything PTO related...

kilgorsky said...

Of course, you could have done it differently. For example, by saying: Bitch, there's no way I'm doing the yearbook thing again if you're involved. Get out of my face. Naw, that's still not raw enough.

Envoy-ette said...

Ha! I'm laughing at Kilgo's statement...because I was thinking the same thing...except with some guilt thrown in..."and if the kids don't get their's your fault..Bitch!" Heheee!!!
She was wrong...and is embarrassed.
After years of dealing with porcupine people...I have learned to be direct and even asked if they want me to "notarize" my not so gentle statement. Once they know I don't care how they "receive" stops the conversation.