I wrote the below email titled “[insert work document here] – who is reviewing?” to the other members of my department this morning:
I’ve almost finished my review of [insert work document here]. Let me know whom I should give it to when I am finished.
I instantly got a “reply to all” message from one of the managers saying that she doesn’t know who is going to review it but she will hold on to it in the meantime and also since I am almost done with it she has something else I can do.
My boss called me into the office a few minutes later (with some smoke coming out of her ears) to remind me that when I need more work to do, email only her first! She knows what is top priority. (She had told me to do this same thing last week, so she was annoyed because she had to do it again).
I explained that the email was in no way written to imply that I needed more work… my evidence is that fact that I had more work to do. I told her the tasks that were next on my list and even showed her where I was going to pick up again on a previous task I had to put on hold and that I wrote that email asking who I should pass my last project to. so simple and not worth the interrogation.
Once I finished explaining this to her, I politely asked if there was anything else she needed from me and she said “You’re going to make sure you ask me before you send an email like that the next time, aren’t you?”
With an extreme expression of confusion on my face I replied, “Emails…asking….who is…..reviewing certain documents when I am finished? Okay, no problem.”
She said, “No! emails requesting more work!”
I responded, “I didn’t write an email requesting more work, but I will ask you before I do next time. [Insert manager’s name] is busy and must have been hoping I might have time to help her out. If you open the email you can see I clearly wrote that I needed to know who to give the project to when I was finished, that’s all.”
She cut me off without rereading the email with a smart-ass, “I read the email, and you IMPLIED that you needed more work to do.”
Instead of starting all over again, I went into a explanation of how “I’m having a hard time because I am being as direct as possible when I communicate but I am constantly having to clarify that the words on the computer screen do not have other meanings. It is a simple miscommunication and I’m sorry if it was taken that way.”
Saying I was “almost finished” could also mean that I didn’t want someone to think I could hand it to them right away because I wasn’t done yet… or I want them to take note of how long it took me to do it…or anything…. but in reality, I just wanted to know who to give it to when I was done with it.
I feel like the Gods have cursed me to have the ability to say things clearly but few are able to believe that that is all I mean to say.
Or the boss is cursed to continuously think people are saying more than they really are.
Ultimately, before putting on their critic’s hat, it is the reader’s responsibility to make sure he or she understands the writer in order to avoid loosing what little lint of my respect happen to stick to their clothes as they passed by on their way to the kitchen.