Does email make people rude?

  1. I've wondered this frequently in the past few months. It seems to me that both the informality, and the speed with which one can communicate by e-mail these days has led to more and more inappropriateness in all such correspondence, but particularly in business communications. A couple of examples from my job:

    Part of my job consists of recruiting and hiring nurses and docs. I get both unsolicited resumes/letters of inquiry and in response to on-line postings I have placed. Some of the letters kind of stun me. I appreciate the convenience of email, trust me, and believe it is intrinsically a less formal mode of communication than a hard-copy letter would be, which is fine. I'm not such a terribly formal person.

    But I get notes from people that read as though they're IM-ing their best buddies! One such letter started out well enough, from a nurse who wanted to "know about the job." Well, the job is kind of complicated, and I'm not willing to go into a lot of detail unless I first know she's qualified (I get a LOT of unqualified candidates). I asked her to send me her resume to review. She rattled back, "What is the salary? What are the hours? What are the benefits?" No please, or thank you, or salutation or signature. I deleted this and never responded. I figure if someone can't write a polite email to a potential employer, she's not going to be so great with patients or coworkers either.

    Other people actually argue with me about whether or not they're qualified for the job, and the tone of their emails gets rather nasty at times.

    Another part of my job is as a corporate supervisor for 14 outlying clinics and a staff numbering over 500. My colleagues, my boss and I have noticed lately that some of the emails we're getting from the clinic nurses are borderline-to-outright rude---angry, argumentative, inflammatory. Maye I'm naive, but since when is this an okay way to talk to your BOSS? Unless you're looking to be fired? Which clearly, most of these nurses aren't, because in the last few weeks, when we have replied that their letters are inappropriate--they act surprised, then apologetic.

    What do you think? Is it TOO easy to fire off rude or reactive emails you later regret? Have you noticed people being ruder or off-puttingly casual in business communications? I'm curious to hear other people's views.
  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   kaycee
    I think people in general are a lot bolder when they aren't addressing someone face to face.
    It happens with e-mail and sometimes even on this board. It happens on the phone too. I am actually guilty of sometimes being rude to phone soliciters who call at bad times and won't stop talking long enough for you to tell them "I'm not interested". I really don't think I could do it as quickly if they were standing in front of me.
    As far as in business communication I would think it would remain professional. Then again we've talked on this board before about basic manners and how they seem to be more and more missing these days. Could be a combination of both, no face to face and no manners anyway. Hmmmm

    P.S.Stargazer, I love your quote!!
  4. by   Sleepyeyes
    Frankly, I think it's a trend. Road rage, workplace bullying, and general rudeness are becoming frighteningly typical.

    What's worse, some people seem to enjoy behaving that way. It's very disconcerting.
  5. by   prn nurse
    You are quite a honcho ! I have always wanted to come to Seattle and work for a look, as a traveler, there was lotsa jobs I wanted......BUT, I wanted to know about the salary and hours BEFORE I sent in the resume, immunization--TB...CPR, ACLS, Skills checklist, References, etc. BECAUSE, if the $$$ wasn't right, why waste my time and $$$, faxing all this stuff, and why waste your time looking and checking and evaluating?,,,,,,,then,,,,,,,,okay, so I'm qualified and you email to say so and then what?.......the pay is too low....You and I both just wasted a lot of time. But,
    it is common knowledge that you begin an e-mail with a salutation and end with your,,,,,,,,,
    Dear Stargazer: Will you cut me some slack since we are both on this BB, and practically pals,..... and give me the $$$ rates upfront? Not to brag, but I KNOW I am qualified. And Seattle IS wonderful in the summer !! I want to see Mt. Rainier just once when the top is not hidden by cloud cover. That should qualify me !!! And also hike the trails before I'm too danged let me in !!! your sympathetic pal to all this rudeness in the world....prn nurse
  6. by   Stargazer
    Good Grief ! Stargazer !! You are quite a honcho!
    Oh, lordy, prn-- I SO am not! :chuckle I work for one large company belonging to a huge corporation and trust me, I am a peon as far as the Big Boys are concerned. At its most exalted, my position would be best described as middle management.

    I understand your point about the applicant not wanting to gather all their data without knowing whether they're qualified but here's the thing: one of us is going to have to waste some time giving info that may turn out to be unnecessary, and since I'm not the one looking for the job, it ain't gonna be me. If someone is actively looking for a job, they should have at least a typed 1-page bare-bones resume prepared, IMHO. (Although I STILL get nurses hand-writing letters of inquiry to me on flowered stationery--and we wonder why executives don't take nurses seriously!)

    All I really need to know is whether an applicant is a North American RN with at least 4 years of ER or ICU/CCU under his/her belt and current ACLS. I don't even need their whole resume upfront. I'll spend 45 minutes talking to them on the phone, as long as I know I won't be wasting my time.
    Dear Stargazer: Will you cut me some slack since we are both on this BB, and practically pals,..... and give me the $$$ rates upfront? Not to brag, but I KNOW I am qualified. And Seattle IS wonderful in the summer !! I want to see Mt. Rainier just once when the top is not hidden by cloud cover. That should qualify me !!! And also hike the trails before I'm too danged let me in !!! your sympathetic pal to all this rudeness in the world....prn nurse
    Hee hee! Trust me, prn, the pay sucks. But if you're an ER/ICU RN, PM me and I'll tell you more.

    Sleepyeyes and kaycee, agree with both your posts!
  7. by   darla80
    Intersting chat

    I do agree with the general consensus that our society has become more bold and sometimes outright rude.

    But I do want to call attention to the fact that written communication as compared to face to face interviewing or even phone chat leaves a huge space for interpretation error.

    When perusing email it is impossible to read facial expression, posture, voice inflection etc. etc.

    Have you ever later reread something you sent off into cyberspace and thought
    "Hmm I did not Intend for it to sound that way?" I certainly have.

    Another spin on this .. My daughter is in HS and she was taught Keyboarding, however she never brought home anything about Email etiquette.

    Maybe this is something that really should be taught to all the keytappers roaming the cyberworld??!

    Lets give it up for email etiquette!!

    Joy and Smiles *DARLA**

    PS. I work in an IM office and we are starting to encourage the patients to email us.. It will be interesting to study this office email scenario
  8. by   Q.
    I agree with a few posters who say that email can allow people to be more blunt or direct than face to face, however, I think rude people will be rude in email, conversation, driving, etc.

    The examples you provided are just clear evidence to me of someone who doesn't give a damn about how they come across and professionalism. Writing a thank-you letter after an interview is no different than writing it though email, or corresponding in ANY professional manner through email. People have yet to even appreciate email as professional correspondence and company property!

    And I agree it's more so a trend than a reflection of email alone. People are generally more rude, abrasive, inpatient; and it's evident in phone conversations, driving, and general customer service.
    I think for some reason, people are ultra sensitive, excitable, inpatient, and just plain rude lately. Email isn't the cause, but it doesn't help.

  10. by   nursedawn67
    I think one it is much easier to be bolder in print, whether it is email or snail mail. i think with email the problem is that since it is so fast that people type and send before they think about what they write. With snail mail there is time to think about it before actually getting to the postoffice with it.
  11. by   shay

    Okay, well, as someone who's communicated with several recruiters via e-mail, I always took special care to format my e-mails in the proper business letter format, and kept it as formal as I would if it were written conversation. Included my signature and credentials at the close, as is proper etiquette.

    However, when I'm e-mailing my friends, it's anything but formal. I think that's appropriate, though.

    I don't think it's necessarily the e-mail that makes folks rude, I think it's just their general persona. Weird. I can't ever imagine sending a recruiter an 'informal' e-mail.
  12. by   Agnus
    Perhaps some have never learned basic manners. When I email some one such as yourself I am very conscious of what and how I say things.

    I am curious, I have this thing about writing proper thank you notes. I gave a speech last week on this. In it I assumed many job applicants write them, but I wonder. How many actually do?

    One reason I ask, is I have been lauded over and over for writing them. Do they just write when you make an offer or what?

    Or do they, just send an e-mail thank you. (better than nothing but...)
    Last edit by Agnus on May 6, '02