Claim: An e-mail exchange between legal secretaries over the whereabouts of the makings of a ham sandwich led to both of them being fired.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, September 2005]
KATRINA NUGENT 9.39am: Yesterday I put my lunch in the fridge on
MELINDA BIRD 9.55: Katrina, There are items fitting your exact description in the
KATRINA NUGENT 10.06: Melinda, probably best you don’t reply to all next time, would be annoyed to the lawyers. The kitchen was not doing dinner last night, so obviously someone has helped themselves to my lunch. Really sweet of you to investigate for me!
MELINDA BIRD 10.14: Katrina, since I used to be a float and am still on the
KATRINA NUGENT 10.15: I’m not blonde!!!
MELINDA BIRD 10.16: Being a brunette doesn’t mean you’re smart though!
KATRINA NUGENT 10.17: I definitely wouldn’t trade places with you for “the world”!
MELINDA BIRD 10.19: I wouldn’t trade places with you for the world… I don’t want your figure!
KATRINA NUGENT 10.21: Let’s not get person (sic) “Miss Can’t Keep A Boyfriend”. I am in a happy relationship, have a beautiful apartment, brand new car, high pay job…say no more!!
MELINDA BIRD 10.23: Oh my God I’m laughing! happy relationship (you have been with so many guys), beautiful apartment (so what), brand new car (me too), high pay job (I earn more)….say plenty more… I have 5 guys at the moment! haha.
Origins: Once again, access to immediate communication contributed to a bit of mayhem in the workplace. The
The pair’s e-mail spat was forwarded to colleagues at Allens, who copied it to rival firms, including Mallesons, Phillips Fox and Gadens. Soon it was sweeping the city’s legal and financial offices, drawing comments from employees of Westpac, Deloitte, Macquarie Bank and
Communication by e-mail comes at a price often unrecognized by those it makes fools of until it becomes painfully obvious after the fact — its informal nature can lead to breakdowns of ordinary civility that occur almost in the blink of an eye. Thanks to the speed with which views can be exchanged, casual back-and-forths between
been raised by the other’s misphrasing of a request, piece of information or proffered bit of advice — a recipient reacts in anger and zings back a deliberately antagonistic response. A recipe for disaster comes to fruition when both parties fall into the deadly pattern of reacting in knee-jerk fashion to one another’s communiqués rather than choosing to break the cycle by not replying or by letting a day or two pass before sending a
In the Nugent/Bird exchange, notice how as tempers frayed, the interval between
barely been read, let alone digested, considered and weighed by the combatants
Roles in the modern workplace are less strictly defined than they once were. We address our
Barbara “inbox-clogging e-mailed commercial come-ons about presumed need aside, the premature ejaculation online society most requires help with is of written nature — it’s a mail problem, not a male problem” Mikkelson
Last updated: 29 January 2016
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