Monday, 9 October 2006

a minor moral dilemma

I've got a minor moral dilemma... and it goes like this.

Every so often, a person emails me, asking for advice and about my experiences in a certain area. They want my help... and I give it. I reply to the questions as best I can. But... this person never thanks me for the stuff I tell her. This person never even replies to my emails or acknowledges them. Last time, I hinted that I'd like a reply, however short, and all I got was the email receipt thingie... But, this person must receive the info I send because she keeps sending questions.

Now this is making me angry. My natural response is to help. And not just, I'll admit, out of the saintly goodness of my heart. I'm a great believer in what goes around comes around, and if you help people, someone will help you in return when the time comes. And when someone helps me, my reaction is to thank them, as any normal person's is.

I don't expect fulsome praise and fawning plaudits from this person, just 'thanks, that helped' would be sufficient. But I know I won't get it, so I'm wondering whether I should supply any info this time... I keep thinking 'why should I?'... but I suppose I'll crumble in the end, and send some info.

What would you do, gentle reader?

14 comments:

val said...

When I hold a shop door open for a stranger and they walk through without thanking me, I thank them loudly instead. Maybe if you start your reply by thanking her for her question, or for her automatic acknowledgement of your previous reply, it will make you feel better at having given a very polite dig, even though it will probably go right over her head.

Or you could send her query to me, and I could answer on your behalf, very politely, and beginning with "unfortunately Wendy is unavailable to reply to your question and has asked me to deal with it".

Jordan Summers said...

What is she asking about? I think that would determine my response. If it's all business and the things she's asking about could be found by using Google, then I'd probably make a polite apology that I'm currently too swamped to answer and suggest she try other avenues.

Anonymous said...

It sounds a little cheeky but if I were in your position, I would be a bit torn...on the one hand,I was always brought up to be polite and courteous and if I can help, then help I will. But on the other hand, to get no recognition or thanks, once or twice could be overlooked but on a persistent basis, is taking you for granted and assuming you will always, without fail, answer her queries...so she will keep on doing it.

Be strong.....either pass it on to someone else or politely advise her that you are otherwise engaged and cannot assist.

Great blog by the way! Good luck with your writing career.

Wendy Wootton said...

Thanks to you all for your thoughts on this. I will probably end up replying to her, but perhaps I'll be fairly circumspect and not supply the personal info she wants.

Am very tempted to set you on as my PA, Val!And you're very right, any hints or polite digs will be completely lost on this person... I suppose she could just be inexperienced with internet etiquette... I'm not sure... ;)

Jordan... The questions are really usually about my personal experience of a certain situation. I feel as it I'm being pumped for info, but with no recognition. 'Used' is probably too dramatic a word, but it sort of feels that way. Oh, and some questions are quite bizarre and are things that I can't understand why this person doesn't know if she's in the situation she's in... It's quite comical in a way...

Hi Anon.. Yes, I'd like to be strong, but I've a feeling I might end up being weak... There isn't really another person I can pass this too, as she and I are the only ones in a similar situation... It wouldn't take me long to answer her, but it's the principle of the thing...

You've all been very kind in offering support like this... but I'm still undecided. I'll let you know in the blog what I decide to do though.

love

Wendy

Saskia Walker said...

Love Val's ideas :-) I'd find it hard not to respond, but it must be annoying! Be brief as poss. Yes/no answers. That's my only thought on it. Maybe the person will get the hint.

Nikki said...

Good god, it's not me is Wendy??? I know you've given me some great advice and now I'm wracking my brains trying to think if I've said thanks. I would have thought I did...If it *was* me, then my advice is to soundly smack me round the head and please accept lots of apologies...off to check what I've said...

Wendy Wootton said...

Yep, Saskia, super brief, almost monosyllabic answers sounds like a very good strategy. At least yes's and no's are more than she ever gives me!

No, Nikki! Not you! You're one of my lovely group of friends who I'm happy to help... and have helped me with things out of the goodness of their heart.

Nikki said...

Phew, thank god for that! I have such an appalling memory sometimes I wonder if I've forgotten to even speak to the boyfriend for the past two days.

Okay then, now I'm in the clear. Advice. It's a funny thing, the internet. You can nod and respond to an email in your own head and actually forget that the person can't see or hear you. Or at least I can. I'd say, though it's tricky, I'd point out that 'thanks wouldn't go amiss.' On the other hand, anyone that reads your blog will now know to mind their manners! I wouldn't be surprised if you get a little sheepish thank you soon enough...

Mags said...

Wendy, your time is valuable, your work important. Yes, it is wonderful to help people when you can - and you do, often. But to give no appreciation, no thanks, to just take, is very rude. I think you have every right to say that you are very busy and are really not able to go on helping when you have no idea whether this person can even be bothered to respond with a basic thank you. You've gone over and above what many would do and if you get nothing back, I think you have to put yourself first and consider all the work you can and do want to do and which is more than appreciated. You deserve that, not to have someone take advantage of you.

Love,
Mags

Wendy Wootton said...

Hi Mags

It's not a time consuming task to answer her... it's just a few simple questions... but... she's asking those questions about my professional life in order to help her own... It's a tough business, and we all need all the help we can get... but still, a simple 'thanks for that' doesn't take much effort, does it?

Love

Wendy

Kate Pearce said...

Is it me?
I lost your email addy honest Wendy!

Wendy Wootton said...

Oh no, not you, Kate! Always a genuine pleasure to exchange info, emails, general jolly chat with you! :)

Kate Hardy said...

LOL, you're making all your mates paranoid, Wend.

I know it's not me because I have been on a screaming deadline and I do always thank you when you help me (just as you say thanks when I help you!)

Hope you get it sorted out.

Wendy Wootton said...

It *isn't* one of my mates... only someone I know very, very, very slightly. Someone who wants to pump me for info to help them advance themselves... but wouldn't dream of giving back anything in return. Even a simple word of thanks or acknowledgement.

All my mates, like you, Kate, are diamonds who are generous to a fault with time and info and always grateful for my meager efforts at help.

love

Wendy