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Author Topic: Professional Ettiquette Help
Dagonee
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I am lining up professors to write recommendations for clerkships this summer, and I need ettiquette help.

I've sent the first email out making the request, and have heard from three of the four professors. However, I haven't heard from my note mentor. It's been a week and a half (since last Sunday) when I sent the original request. She will probably want to meet with me, and there's only a week and a half left before I leave for the summer.

How do I phrase a reminder email, and is now an appropriate time to send one out? I don't want to annoy her or pester her, but I also need an answer.

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DarkKnight
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I would say now is an appropriate time if you haven't heard anything in a week and a half, especially considering you only have 1.5 weeks left.
Phrasing should be a lot like the first email you sent, with apologies for contacting again so soon or things to that effect

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Numinor West
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I'm not an expert on this subject but that has never stopped me from offering free advice in the past ;-)

You waited about 3 times longer than I ever could have, being the impatient slob that I am.

Just say, "This is a friendly reminder that... blah blah blah.. please respond ASAP since my future is hanging in the balance"

For all you know, your original email got blocked or deleted by mistake, yikes!

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ClaudiaTherese
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I would consider leaving a message on voicemail, too -- just something like "wasn't sure if my email got through, so I'm resending it. Sorry for any confusion." Then resend the email, too -- I'd just forward my copy again and tag the top with a short bit like "BTW, I left you a voicemail heads-up, just in case you weren't checking emails right now. Thanks!" (but of course, write it in the proper tone for your relationship)
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kmbboots
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CT, that sounds perfect. It is a strategy I use with professors and deans all the time. Assuming that I have to be nice, that is.
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Dagonee
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That's a good idea, CT, but I have a confession to make:

I'm terrified of talking on the phone, and intentionally leaving voice mails is worse than getting a live person.

I'll probably end up doing it that way, unless someone can save me with brilliant idea.

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ClaudiaTherese
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Huh. Does this person have an office with a memo board on the door, or perhaps an office mailbox that is uncluttered, thus reflecting general regular checkage? You could do that instead of a voicemail.

Just something to utilize more than one mode of communication (i.e., not just email), since there could be an email problem, or the prof's inbox might be simply swamped, or whatever, and this does give him/her a graceful way out, regardless.

"Oh, gee! Didn't see that email. Glad you got ahold of me."

But if you don't get a response within another 3-4 days, you might kinda hafta use the telephonamabob thingie. [Smile] (I hate them, too.)

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jeniwren
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CT's got the right idea, Dag, sorry. More than once, I've been unable for some legitimate reason or another to get my email. The people who called me on the phone or left me a vmail got a response. In more than one case, I was really glad they did.

If need be, write down what you intend to say on the phone, then make the call with confidence. Another trick is to call someone else first, get your stuttering out of the way, then call your note mentor.

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ElJay
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*blink*

All of the Williams siblings also hate making phone calls.

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ClaudiaTherese
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(And what jeniwren said. *smile)
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Narnia
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quote:
I'm terrified of talking on the phone, and intentionally leaving voice mails is worse than getting a live person.
That's wacky, I thought I was the only one. I HATE seeing my voicemail light on at work because it means I have to call someone back. I hate answering the phone if I don't know exactly who it is. I'm a little different than you Dag in the business call area: I'd rather leave a voicemail and the ball in their court than talk to a real person. Most of the time.
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dkw
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quote:
Another trick is to call someone else first, get your stuttering out of the way, then call your note mentor.
Spoken by someone who obviously does not experience the phone dread. That would mean making two calls. How is this an improvement?

Dag, is there any way you could bump into (not literally) this person in the hall and say, "Hey, did you get my e-mail?"

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theresa51282
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Count me in as another phone phobe. I hardly ever answer my phone unless I know who it is. Otherwise I let the voicemail pick up and then evaluate if I want to talk to the person or not. Its not like I am even avoiding any one or thing. I return the call 99% of the time but I need the time to evaluate what I want to say or I turn into a terrible stutterer on the phone.
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kmbboots
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I get the making phone calls things, too. Hate it. Although I never mind when someone calls me, I am always certain I am going to be interrupting something vital causing that person to hate me forever. Since I have to make a lot of calls I have a mantra. "If they are too busy to answer their phone, they won't."

Another suggestion is to ask the professor's assistant if he has one, or a department assistant to nudge him.

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jeniwren
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dkw, I do have phone dread. It drives my husband nuts. However, knowing I have to make multiple calls is much better than just having 1. (Clarification: knowing I have more than one call to make does not FEEL any better prior to making the calls. However, in the long run, given the opportunity to work through my jitters with the first call, I'm glad the 'real' call wasn't first.) After the first call, I stop sounding like an idiot who has never used a phone in her life. The first one, though, I do have to sound like an idiot. It seems to be a requirement. I stutter through it, figure out that this isn't as bad as I was making it out to be, then relax and end up glad I picked up the phone. Usually. Since I've made one call, the subsequent ones are much easier.

OTOH, I'd much rather call someone than run into them in person. Then I not only sound like an idiot, I look like one too.

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Dagonee
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quote:
Another trick is to call someone else first, get your stuttering out of the way, then call your note mentor.
I think this is a good idea. Although, as dkw pointed out, it requires an additional phone call, I've found I can take advantage of inertia once I start calling.

quote:
Dag, is there any way you could bump into (not literally) this person in the hall and say, "Hey, did you get my e-mail?"
Nope. That's my normal way to handle this, but during exams there's no really graceful way to be where she is.

It sounds like no matter what I should be sending another email. How do you usually phrase something like that? I don't want to come across as "Hey, you didn't answer my email you rude..."

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kmbboots
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Preface it with, "Just in case you didn't receive this..."

I know it is a lie. But the presumption that the other party is never intentionally rude is a well-established ettiquette convention.

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Noemon
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I'd handle the email exactly as CT and Kate suggested. I'd also follow up with the voicemail, but since I don't have the phone problem (anymore) that's easier said than done.

On the subject of being terrified of calling people, I had a roommate who would go and pick up a pizza before he would call for a delivery. I was starting to develop a touch of this kind of fear in the late 90s, but a job doing tech support type stuff broke me of it before too long.

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katharina
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It is also possible that she has responded, and you are not getting the e-mail. This happened to me recently - it's very possible. A voicemail is a good idea.
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JonnyNotSoBravo
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<sidebar>Etiquette is spelled with only three "t"s, not four as in the title. I only mention it because that's the word I missed in the regional spelling bee in 8th grade (I got 2nd place). I had never heard of it at the time.</sidebar>
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Narnia:
I'd rather leave a voicemail and the ball in their court than talk to a real person.

This is totally me. Tell me why I keep taking jobs that require lots of phone calls? Especially unpleasant ones -- as a teacher, calling parents (which is, all too often, not for a good thing); as registrar/admissions/etc., calling students to remind them of various things, calling parents to remind them that they owe us money, calling teachers to remind them that they owe me paperwork, calling the main branch to ask favors and/or get taught/reminded how to do stuff . . . fun! [Roll Eyes]

In my case, it's not that I'm afraid I'm bothering them by calling (many people don't answer, and too few return calls [Razz] ), it's the whole sounding-like-an-idiot and getting-no-body-language-feedback thing. I vastly prefer email. You can spellcheck and edit that!

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Enigmatic
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quote:
Originally posted by ElJay:
*blink*

All of the Williams siblings also hate making phone calls.

What? I don't have any phone dread. I'm not at all afraid of phones. Ever.

--Enigmatic

(Are you mad? This is the internet, the phones can totally hear you here! [Angst] )

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Dagonee
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Any thoughts on this draft of the email, written as the header on a forward of the original email (including the attachments):

Prof. X,

I just found out today that a couple of emails I sent last week didn't go through, so I thought I'd resend this just to be safe. I will be in town through Monday the 15th if you need any additional information.

Thank you again,

Rob

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jeniwren
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quote:
just found out today that a couple of emails I sent last week didn't go through, so I thought I'd resend this just to be safe.
I might rephrase it "I just found out today that a few of the emails I sent out last week didn't go through. As I haven't heard from you yet in response to my email last week, I'm resending it with the assumption that it went astray as well. I will be in town..."

But I really think you should just call and find out if he got it, then resend if necessary. It's much more efficient and will give you more info than if you just email again. If you'd like, you can use me as your first call to get the ball rolling. I'll email you my phone number if you like. Calling an almost complete stranger must be worse than calling your prof. [Smile]

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Kwea
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I would call, or drop off a nice note in her office, but only if you are sure she would get it right away.


If you don't hear from her within the week I would be a little more forward. [Big Grin]

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Tante Shvester
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Or you can send a threateningly scary legal-type letter. I LOVE when I get those in the mail! Your law professor would be impressed with your professional acumen when you threaten her with "legal action". Show your shark teeth! You can't beat that for etiquette.

Or, you could just wimp out and send a follow-up email, letting her know how eager you are to land this clerkship and are hoping to hear back from her before you leave town.

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kmbboots
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Dagonee, that sounds great. If she does have an assistant, cc it to him with, "Could you please make sure that Professor X sees this? Thanks."
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Dagonee
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Email sent using the suggestions. Now I have to call her. *shudder*
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erosomniac
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quote:
Prof. X,

I just found out today that a couple of emails I sent last week didn't go through, so I thought I'd resend this just to be safe. I will be in town through Monday the 15th if you need any additional information.

Thank you again,

Rob

Dag, let's face it - even if he DIDN'T get your e-mail, he knows what you're thinking.

(Hey, someone had to do it.)

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jeniwren
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<studio audience>

Go Dag, Go! Go Dag Go!

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Dagonee
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She responded to the email 18 minutes before the deadline I gave myself for leaving the voicemail. [Big Grin]
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jeniwren
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Lucky you. I still owe three people return calls. I hate using the phone.
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kmbboots
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Did she respond positively?
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Dagonee
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Oh, yeah, sorry I left that out. She agreed to write the recommendation. I was never really in doubt about that, but I needed to make sure she had me on her list.
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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Email sent using the suggestions.
quote:
She agreed to write the recommendation.
So, the threatening letter had her running scared?
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rivka
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Today I found out exactly why sending an email to the main registrar (heads a 20+ person department at the main campus, as well as coordinating another 20-30 people on various other campuses -- like me) is so useless.

He had warned me previously that he only checks email first and last thing of the day. So when I sent him an urgent email (and it needed to be email, as I was forwarding something that had to be in written form), I called him. Leaving a voicemail is almost as likely to get a quick response as an email [Wink] , so I called every 5-10 minutes until I reached him.

It took him a minute to find my email. Why? Apparently it's difficult to sift through the EIGHTEEN HUNDRED emails he had received since he checked the email 3 hours earlier. [Eek!]

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Dagonee
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jeniwren, I hope the three calls didn't cause too much heartburn.

quote:
So, the threatening letter had her running scared?
Yeah. I was like, "giddy-up. Where's the luv?"

Actually, it was a hybrid of my email and jw's suggestion.

quote:
Apparently it's difficult to sift through the EIGHTEEN HUNDRED emails he had received since he checked the email 3 hours earlier.
[Eek!] indeed!

Thanks for the help, everyone!

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Teshi
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On the subject of phone fear- what is up with that? I have it too. I don't mind calling people I am friends with, and I don't mind answering the phone but I have to write down exactly what I want to say in order to have the courage to make an "official" phone call.
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OlavMah
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Well, the bad news is that lawyers have to make a lot of phone calls. I'm a phone phobe too, but for some reason my reserved, somewhat slow paced telephone voice receives high praise from clients. I guess they mistake my hemming and hawing for thorough, meticulous thought....

And always remember that hitting # after you record a voicemail usually allows you to delete it and record again. Done that more than once.

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