Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Email Protocols and Two Week Notices

(Picture Left: "Treasure" -- Like his name implies, Treasure is a loving and gentle gem of a kitty. So much so, I wrongly presumed his foster person might want to keep him. Lesson to learn [among others]: Never ASSume anything!)

I am not a fan of email.

While email has it attributes in terms of speed, economy and convenience, there is something cold, impersonal, indirect and transitory about it.

I much prefer direct and personal communications with others -- if not, face to face, then over a phone.

This is why, in all of our adoption postings we require interested parties to CALL us and not email.

I want to be able to hear the nuances and emotions in people's voices. I want spontaneous, two-way conversation.

If people cannot find the time to make a phone call and engage in two-way, uncontrived conversation, then, in my view, they don't have the time to have a dog or cat.

That may sound judgmental, "old fashioned" and discriminating, but at least for me, it's just the way it is.

Reality is, we cannot adopt or send out animals as email attachments. At some point, there has to be direct communication. That is better and more time efficient to be sooner than later.

In addition to the aforementioned drawbacks of email, there is also something called, "email protocol."

We have all heard stories of those who, in a moment of passion or anger say things in email that later comes back to bite them in the ass.

Then there are those who use email as cowardly means for breaking off a relationship with someone or quitting a job (a serious "no no" in terms of propriety and consideration of the feelings of others).

One is reminded of a particularly funny (because of its connection to truth) "Sex and the City" episode in which a boyfriend of Carrie's breaks up with her on a Post-a-Note.

But, whether one chooses Post-A-Notes, emails or text messages to end an association or deliver bad news, they all represent poor form in one-to-one communications and personal relationships as they either take the other person out of the communication or end up in angry emails (due to hurt feelings) or messages going back in forth.

No matter how you look at it, personal emails should be kept to bare minimum and used only when absolutely necessary -- i.e. when the more direct and two-way means of communication are not available. In my view, emails should only be used to share with others non-personal information, such as news articles, jokes or animals available for rescue or adoption (such as shelters sending out Alerts or Euth list to rescues, although this quickly becomes overwhelming over time.)

I am writing about and am particularly touchy about email today because over the past two days, I am having a very negative experience with it.

Yesterday morning, a long time foster volunteer sent me an email suddenly announcing that she was "moving" in a week and I would have to take her foster cat, Treasure back within that time.

Not only was I surprised and disappointed about not getting any warnings or "heads up" that this circumstance might suddenly occur, but I was also dismayed that the bad news was delivered by email instead of personal phone call.

As said, choosing email to end any kind of association or deliver bad news is (to me) cowardly and disrespectful to the affected party. That goes too, for suddenly returning animals to shelters or rescue groups with little or no proper notice.

Since yesterday, several not-so-pleasant emails have been exchanged between "Jill" (not her real name) and myself.

Jill now feels "insulted" because I intimated that her actions lacked consideration and suitable "notice" in time to find proper foster replacement.

I feel insulted for all the reasons cited.

Although I assured Jill that I would indeed take Treasure back as stipulated in our adoption and foster contracts, I also let her know this was not the best thing for either the cat or myself. I am already at capacity with the animals in my home. One of the reasons I requested Jill to foster Treasure many months ago is I felt it necessary to try and cut down on the number of animals in my home. -- Especially now that I am getting older, living alone and experiencing some health issues.

It is unfortunate that a working relationship that over the years, had been very fruitful, respectful, responsible, friendly and beneficial to both parties now seems to dissolve in a bevy of hurt feelings and insult on both sides.

It is sad, but true that often in life, how things end is generally how they are ultimately perceived -- regardless of all that went before them.

There are a couple of lessons to be taken out of the sharing of this story:

The first is that one should NEVER use email, text messages or Post-a-Notes to deliver bad news to another or end and association.

The second is that when agreeing to foster or adopt an animal from an organization, it is very similar to taking on a "job:"

When quitting any job or responsibility, it is only proper (and often required) to give at least two weeks notice in order that the affected party can find suitable replacement.

No matter the excuses or reasons, the foster person in this case was just plain wrong.

And despite all the wonderful achievements and sacrifices of the past, the way this particular association ends, forever effects its overall and ultimate perception on both sides.

For one who generally hates communication via email, how ironic to find myself in this place.

I will never understand why the general public does not think that shelters and rescue groups don't warrant the same respect and protocol that other companies and agencies do.

That needs to change. -- PCA