Dear Miss Manners: I am married and live in the same city as my parents. They are both retired and have eagerly embraced email — sometimes too much. Since my parents claim that my wife and I "never answer the phone," they send us emails, lots and lots of emails.
The issue is twofold. First, they seem to send us emails as they think of anything. It's almost like stream-of-consciousness. We get several from both Mom and Dad every day.
That is related to the second piece of the issue. Mom and Dad overlap emails on the same topic. They live in the same house, but it feels like they do not coordinate at all on their messages!
We include both of them when trying to coordinate any activities. My wife and I have told them more than once that our own daily activities prevent us from answering their emails right away. We are well aware that they have more free time than we do, but they don't seem to get it. We love my parents, but answering this many emails is frustrating.
Help. Is there any way to ask them nicely to coordinate on their emails so we're not spending time replying to so many?
Here is a phrase Miss Manners does not often say: Why don’t you suggest they start their own blog? Or at least you treat their emails as such.
The beauty about correspondence is that its frequency is up to both parties. You do not have to answer every email. If you slow down your responses, Miss Manners feels sure that even if your parents don’t slow down theirs to match the pace, they will at least afford you the opportunity to say, “Oh I didn’t think we needed to respond. Dad told us the same news yesterday, so I thought you were just posting.”
Dear Miss Manners: I work in a business that serves walk-in clients. Unfortunately, the powers that be tend to cut staff when they think we may be less busy.
I'm for saving the company money; however, they often guess wrong because of a variety of reasons, including not asking the staff their thoughts. Wait times get long due to the lack of staff.
I've been told to apologize for people's wait. I am sorry they have to wait for their needs to be met, but I don't feel I should be expected to apologize. It's not my fault we don't have enough staff. I try to be as accommodating as possible. I'll fetch some water and snacks for bored children. But I just can't get the words "I'm sorry" out of my mouth when it isn't my fault.
Patrons are far more likely to be more sympathetic — and recognize that it is the company’s fault and not yours — if you are cognizant of their annoyance and apologize on the company’s behalf. As a bonus, the company might be more apt to listen and change their policies with consumer support and sympathy behind you.
Miss Manners therefore suggests that you think of the apology as one for a company that won’t listen to you. But then you must also resist rolling your eyes or using air quotes when issuing it.