The Power of Assertiveness

September 23, 2008

I rarely, if ever, give out my work email address.  I have enough personal email addresses, that I don’t need the one my employer provides for anything other than work related correspondence.  Sometimes, however, in order to get information from a vendor or software support center, I have provided my work email to people outside of work.  Since I am careful about to whom and when I provide my email address, I am always disappointed when I started getting marketing materials as a result.

Somehow, recently, I started getting invitations to a series of database “webinars.”  I am not a database person, although I have been involved with them in various capacities throughout my career.  At first I just deleted the unwanted messages from my inbox.  But the number and frequency of the messages increased and I decided I didn’t want their junk in my inbox any more.  Especially since it really isn’t my inbox - it’s my employers.

Following the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email I submitted my address for removal from their list.  I got the standard, “your email will be removed” message and thought that was the end of the story.  And then a few days later I got another email for another webinar.  And I unsubscribed again.  And again.  And again.

This morning I had finally reached a breaking point, and I sent the following message back to the email address where these now highly annoying messages were originating:

I have repeated tried to unsubscribe from this mailing.  Since you refuse to honor that request I will now mark any and all communications from your company as spam.  I will further configure my spam software to treat all messages from your domain as spam, and I will not ever do business with your company or its affiliates.

In just a few minutes I received a reply:

Mark,  I apologize for this problem.  I will check and see why your request has not been honored as you indicate below.  But will make sure that you are no longer contacted.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  

It was signed by their VP of Marketing and Communications.

I suppose I could have continued to just delete their marketing emails from my inbox, which sees upwards of 100 legitimate emails a day (and growing), but I am glad that I decided to be assertive instead.  So much of our daily lives now are transacted in cyberspace, and it is so easy to forgive or at least tolerate actions that would be rude in person, since they are in the form of “bodiless” emails or forum postings.  If anything, I think electronic communication should be more polite, more deferential, more exactingly correct, since they don’t come in person.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.