Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I hate bullies--especially anonymous ones.

Just got a nastygram today from RoastMail (meaning that the sender wasn't brave enough to sign his or her own name to the email).  The person, in the guise of being concerned about professionalism, suggested that I was cluttering up everyone's inboxes with my congratulations when people at Boyd did something praiseworthy.

Here's the text:

Please read and heed the subject line.  Everyone at Boyd (especially because we are lawyers/law students) would probably like to throw in their two cents and congratulate whoever deserves congratulations, BUT can you imagine what a mess our inboxes would be if we all gave in to our desires.  Besides it being rude and unprofessional, it's just downright annoying to see a reply to every announcement regarding our school/faculty/students.

PLEASE, out of professional courtesy, keep your personal comments off the email server. 

Good day.
And here was my response:
Tell you what, anonymous roaster---let me put this up to the whole faculty. I'm happy to bow out of congratulatory emails, if my colleagues would prefer that. But I would have had more respect for you, whoever you are, if you'd had the courage to sign your name.
I'll let readers know which way the faculty goes on this issue.  If I'm really annoying people, then I'm happy to lay off the congrats, even though my guess is that most people feel underappreciated and could use some well-deserved congratulations.*  But I truly hate bullies and cowards, having had enough experience with those to last a lifetime.

Had this person had the courage to come into my office, shut the door, and express his or her view to me directly (or even in a private but signed email), I would have felt bad that I'd annoyed the person, I would have apologized to him or her, and I'd have gone to other colleagues to ask them if I really was irritating the crud out of my colleagues.  But that's not what the person did.

If it's important enough to send a nastygram, it's important enough to sign it.  And I'm going to assume that this person who sent it to me isn't a student, due to the salutation using my first name.

Readers:  are we at a point when praising others is a bad thing?

* See Kent Syverud, Three Principles of Effective Deaning, 31 U. Tol. L. Rev. 751 (2000).


Tracie Lynne Hall said...

One of the things that makes me proud of Chapman is that Professors, and even the Dean take time to congratulate colleagues and students on their accomplishments, and it's never annoying when another professor chimes in, especially if they add to the list of who needed to be praised for the great outcome of a particular event.

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, Tracie! I'm glad to hear that Chapman is as good to its internal people as it was to me yesterday--I'm still glowing from the great time that I had!

Buce said...

Nah, this one just needs some rhubarb pie. Here in Palookaville, we are congratulation-happy. I tend to think it's a bit dorky sometimes but you can't remotely describe it as a public offense. Rather, I pray for the day when there's nothing more toxic in my mailbox but a bunch of mash notes.

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, Jack--and rhubarb pie is a good solution for a lot of problems! :)

Meghan Sheridan said...

A comment from Professor Ware (in a different context) comes to mind about these email praises being annoying (and oh yeah,unprofessional) ... "Tough!" Sure, it would probably be very "unprofessional" if every member of the student body blasted out a praise email to every accomplishment noted. However, that is not the case - I think it is entirely professional and an excellent gesture when members of our esteemed faculty send out praises. Furthermore, that is why emails have "subject" lines, you know what it pertains to, how hard is it to delete and move on? I hate whiners.

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, Meghan! We're starting to think that, based on the wording, it may well have been a student or an alumnus. I have no problem w/folks expressing their First Amendment rights (although I've blogged before about why I think that anonymous comments are cowardly).

But I agree w/you that there are better ways to deal w/annoying emails than sending a nastygram to someone. And I'm glad that lots of folks are weighing in to say that they like hearing praise when there are praiseworthy achievements.

I very much appreciate the fact that you weighed in! See you in class....

torrentialcyclist said...

I've been working my tail off for three semester to get one of those...can't stop now.

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, Torrential Cyclist--and your blog's quite interesting. BRAVO!

Josh said...


I happen to think your congratulatory emails are great. Even though I'm not a recipient of the actual congratulations, it makes me feel good to know that someone in the faculty/administration (especially one of your esteem) takes the time to further nurture the unique family-like environment that we all enjoy at Boyd. Congrats to YOU!

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, Josh--you made my day!

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, Josh--you made my day!