Some Astonishingly Bad Professional Advice

So Nick Bilton, NY Times columnist, has some advice regarding etiquette in the era of intertoobz, namely don’t write thank you emails:

Some people are so rude. Really, who sends an e-mail or text message that just says “Thank you”? Who leaves a voice mail message when you don’t answer, rather than texting you? Who asks for a fact easily found on Google?

Don’t these people realize that they’re wasting your time?

Of course, some people might think me the rude one for not appreciating life’s little courtesies. But many social norms just don’t make sense to people drowning in digital communication.

Let me say something about the thank you email. If you happen to be someone’s subordinate, you have to return the email. Sure, it will be deleted, but you can’t afford not to be polite. More importantly, if you’re on the other side of the relationship and are the boss, your underlings will greatly appreciate the email. To you, it might be nothing, but to your employees, it will be a small sign that their efforts are valued. If nothing else, it acknowledges the very existence of their effort (this also applies to colleagues in roughly equivalent positions).

If you’re the kind of employer who is ‘too busy’–that is too inconsiderate of other people–to do this, that’s a sign you’re an asshole. You should work on that. A lot.

Freddie de Boer asks:

Sometimes the things that we are asked for are little things, like our time, our full attention, our regard. We extend them, not in spite of their inefficiency but because of their inefficiency, because the purpose of human effort is to become more human; it is not to save more time for the least human parts of our lives. Once you recognize human society as a series of apologies, a long chain of forgiveness that extends from each of us to each other, you will never mistake being asked for a tiny courtesy as itself a tiny matter. Nor will you allow your self-obsession to grow to such a level that you mistake being asked for something with an imposition; what about you is so grand that could come to feel imposed upon?

…no one is remotely as impressed with you as you are with yourself. No one else mistakes your time for a precious commodity. Self-regard does not make you important, nor does a chronic overestimation of your own value actually make you valuable. You are not the cosmos. Most of the people around you are laughing at you, all the time. They are right to laugh, because you have violated a basic social compact. You believe that what you want and value is more important than what others want and value. In fact, no one thinks much about what you want at all. Some of the best advice you can give: remember that the minute you leave a room, no one is thinking about you.

Bad for people, bad for bidness.

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3 Responses to Some Astonishingly Bad Professional Advice

  1. A2B2 says:

    Very well put. I always appreciate someone that sends an email/text/etc thank you. For many considerate people, it seems to serve the purpose of acknowledging receipt when there isn’t necessarily something that requires a response. I wish more people would do this when receiving important things, like CVs and cover letters.

  2. TheBrummell says:

    Mr. Bilton’s email appears at the bottom of that article. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have sent him an email with the subject “Thanks!”

  3. Pingback: E.O. Wilson Gives Some Really Bad Career Advice | Mike the Mad Biologist

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