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Miss Manners: Mass emails may be returned without regret

Fri., Jan. 17, 2014

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a freelance writer who has had articles published in several magazines. I just received a mass email (a mass forwarding, I think) from an editor to whom I have sold material on three separate occasions.

This email was a lengthy and nasty criticism of a prominent political candidate, related neither to any work I had done for this editor, nor to the magazine’s general publishing mission.

Although I was not entirely unsympathetic with all the political views expressed in the message, there were some I strongly disagreed with; and in any case, I was annoyed that a professional editor would use my being on her email list as an excuse to hit me with something totally irrelevant to our working relationship. (At least I hope it was irrelevant. If this is her way of ferreting out and dropping any regular writers who disagree with her political opinions, I quit!)

Besides, I am long fed up with the “badmouth your opponent” approach that dominates political campaigns.

Rather than risk saying anything that might hurt my own professional reputation, I simply deleted the message without answering it. I wonder, though, if there was any possible way I could have replied that would have tactfully discouraged anything more of this kind?

GENTLE READER: “I’m afraid I must have gotten onto the wrong email list” is a perfectly reasonable response to unwanted emails, particularly mass forwarded ones. Miss Manners notes that you wouldn’t mind being dropped by this editor for political differences (which would be highly unethical on her part anyway), so you have little to lose.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: If I am a guest speaker at a luncheon, is it unprofessional of me to eat any of the food?

GENTLE READER: While you are speaking, yes.

Please send your questions to dearmissmanners@


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