A woman who I am acquainted with at work frequently sends me (to my work email account) email forwards that reference God or republicanism as if she just assumes that I am going to relate to such content. I’ll open these emails, thinking it might be a personal message from her, only to be greeted with another reference about the light of the Lord shining forth from someone’s eyes.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation, in which a work colleague persisted in sending you email forwards containing volatile political or religious content or other material that you disagreed with? How did you handle this situation, without hurting the sender’s feelings or causing a scene?
Should I simply delete her messages but not create any further ado?
Should I let her know these messages are not up my alley?
Frankly, it is the presumptuousness of the messages (that is, her seeming assumption that I am on the same wavelength as she is, both politically and spiritually) that bothers me more than the messages themselves.
I don’t forward messages blaring my own political affiliations or religious sensibilities to colleagues, as I feel that would be inappropriate to make assumptions about my co-workers’ points of view. Sometimes, it seems that those who harbor more standard Judeo-Christian sensibilities feel perfectly justified in dispersing their sentiments far & wide, but why should they be exempt from reasonable standards of what is or is not appropriate for the workplace, just because their sensibilities more closely match the norms.
On a similar note, someone else from my place of employment recently sent an email forward to the ENTIRE TEAM (100 plus people) which basically boiled down to the idea that drug use probably wouldn’t be so prevalent if parents took their kids into the shed out back and whipped their asses more often instead of coddling them. Was that appropriate content to disperse to an entire staff? I don’t think so. However, I’ll bet the fellow wasn’t even chastised. But what would happen if I sent a message to the entire staff celebrating the glories of marijuana, for example? Or if I sent a pro-choice message to all of my friendly work acquaintances? I’ll bet there would be some serious backlash about my dissemination of such content. It seems quite hypocritical to me that dissemination of certain kinds of what might be considered ‘hot button’ content tends to be more readily accepted than other kinds of ‘hot button’ content.
Which brings me back to my friendly work acquaintance email forwarding woman. If someone else asked me for advice about a similar situation, I might say something like, ‘Well, the woman is being rude and presumptuous–and furthermore, she has rather inane sensibilities–so why not just send her a pointedly rude message back and perhaps she’ll get the hint’.
The thing is, though, I really don’t want to hurt this woman’s feelings. I’ve been working with her for years, I like her as a colleague, and I like her as a person as long as we’re not talking about hot button issues. Maybe she doesn’t realize that I am not a Christian Republican-because after all, I don’t broadcast such affiliations in the office. I tone myself down and present a more neutral version of me, for the sake of professionalism.
Perhaps from now on, when I receive an email forward that does not represent my point of view, then I will send one in return that does represent my point of view. Or perhaps I will respond by sending a random poem–and then if I receive befuddled feedback, I’ll just say, ‘Oh I just figured you’d be into it’.