Social undermining, Reply-All email edition
September 9, 2014 7:48 AM   Subscribe

What is the proper response when you've just sent out an email invitation to a regular social group because it's your turn to host, and immediately one of the members replies-all to your email in order to publicly "correct" you. Only they're actually wrong.

For the last few years, I've been a member of a social club that I generally enjoy - until recently anyway. We meet monthly, and each member takes a turn organizing (meaning they choose a local restaurant or their own home for the group to meet in, and then they mass email the group to let them know where and when.) The time is always the same. The date is usually the last Tuesday of the month, and yet when there are five Tuesdays in a calendar month, the host has the option to hold the meeting on either the fourth Tuesday of the month or the fifth Tuesday of the month - whichever of the two dates works better for the host. It has always been up to the host in these cases. Full stop.

So in my capacity as the host, I sent out a standard-form group email saying "Hi, I'm this month's host and we're meeting HERE on DATE and TIME" with the usual pleasantries "see you soon" etc etc.

Then "Pat" (not real name), a member of our group who I've experienced before as grumpy and negative (shocker), apparently didn't like the date I picked, and felt that "WE" should have been consulted first (or something?) and immediately sent this one-line reply-all email: "We usually meet on the last Tuesday. Did we change this one?"

Pat the Reply-All Person happens to be wrong about this, according to the group norms as I've experienced them for years and years. I wish Pat had emailed me privately, and I'm feeling undermined. Yes, I fully realize email does not always convey the accurate tone and emotions, and perhaps Pat means well. But I'm the host, dammit! That's the only date that works for me. And I don't want to engage in any back and forth Reply-All-ing: I hate reply-all email non-versations with every fibre of my being, especially now, when it's feeling an awful lot like social undermining to be "corrected" -- both publicly and mistakenly.

Now I feel like some sort of response is maybe required, but as I said I loathe reply-all emails, especially when folks use them to try to resolve a disagreement that should not even be a disagreement in the first place. Oy. Being in this group is suddenly starting to feel like work -- and being in this is optional social club should be light, easy fun.

Other background: Of thirteen total people in the group, there have never been more than between three and seven people at any given monthly meeting. Changing the date would not meaningfully change the number of members who'll attend. Also, none of these "rules" about when the group meets are written down anywhere - they are all informal guidelines, and folks have always been generally flexible and have deferred to the host's schedule. Until now.

I'm inclined to send a reply email only to Pat, not the whole group, essentially saying, "Nope, Pat this is the date I'm hosting - hope you can make it." What is the proper response here, if any? My goals are to stop the reply-all email train in it's tracks, discourage it in the future, remain in the group (for now) and have my wishes as host actually be respected. Thank you, hive mind!
posted by hush to Human Relations (55 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why not wait and let someone else correct her?

I wouldn't read too much into this, though. It's just Pat being her usual absent-minded self.

I've just reread your question in detail and I think you are okay replying to all with what you proposed to write to Pat privately, so everyone is clear on the date being firm.
posted by Dragonness at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Be much kinder. Her one-liner could very easily be an absent-minded query and not a dig at you at all. Assume the best in emails, especially mass emails to avoid flamewars. Send a short reply-all to say:

"The last Tuesday of the month doesn't work for this meet, so we're meeting on DATE/TIME at PLACE. So we don't end up in a reply-all train, email me at EMAIL with any questions. Thanks!"

Short and sweet, redirects from reply-all without making Pat feel smacked down, and sidesteps why the meet is on that date.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:54 AM on September 9, 2014 [52 favorites]


I wouldn't reply at all and stick with the plan you sent out. Not replying has the biggest chance of accomplishing all your goals.
posted by michaelh at 7:55 AM on September 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


I would send Pat a breezy email saying that the last Tuesday of the month is what works for you, as the host, and finish it off with a "hope to see you there!"
posted by PlantGoddess at 7:56 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah I see two options depending on what exactly it is you want.

If you are fine with it, just send a politely worded message to Pat only "blah blah blah this is how it's been done as far as I know, this is the date I am able to host blah blah blah hope you can make it, if not we'll catch up at a future monthly meeting...etc."


If you want to publicly address it without been "mean", send a reply all AND a personal email; reply all "Hi Pat, this is my understanding of the issue. I'm going to send you a private email as well in case you want to talk about it some more" then private email "this is what I can do, this is the date, hope you can come".
posted by edgeways at 7:57 AM on September 9, 2014


I would probably send Pat a private email saying something like "My understanding of meeting scheduling is that in a month with blah blah blah, so I decided on the DATE. Hope to see you there!" and then a Reply-All saying something like, "Just confirming that DATE is the correct date for this month's meeting. Looking forward to it!" This way you minimize the Reply-All drama, but you make sure everyone knows you know what's what.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:57 AM on September 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


I would write something like:
"Hey everyone,
It seems that there is some confusion about meeting guidelines.
As far as I understood them, when there are five Tuesdays in a month, that month's host decides whether the club will meet on the fourth or fifth Tuesday. I am hosting this month and will be hosting on the fourth Tuesday of this month. I hope to see you all there!

If anyone has any further questions, please email me directly so that we don't flood everyone's inboxes! :)"

And then be able to cite previous months with five tuesdays to back yourself up!
posted by kinddieserzeit at 7:59 AM on September 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


I do think you should clear it up but it's not really reading as that much drama, at least yet anyway. If you just reply to Pat or don't reply at all, you risk everyone else not knowing the resolution to the issue (and potentially not attending due to their confusion, coming on the wrong date, and/or an even longer and messy email train wherein others reply all or privately reply without ultimate authority to shut this down like you have). I realize you don't like reply all, but you didn't start it - Pat did.

I'd reply all with this:

"The date is usually the last Tuesday of the month, and yet when there are five Tuesdays in a calendar month, the host has had the option to hold the meeting on either the fourth Tuesday of the month or the fifth Tuesday of the month - whichever of the two dates works better for the host. Since X is the only date that works for me, this is the date I'm hosting - hope you can make it!"
posted by vegartanipla at 7:59 AM on September 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think you have to reply all at least once so everyone is clear on the plan. But be nice. If you think Pat is negative and unpleasant, everyone else probably does too.
posted by something something at 7:59 AM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


This is totally Not a Big Deal, and maybe some other people in the group are under the same impression Pat is under. Just ask everyone for a clarification.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:00 AM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


I would fudge it a little and reply-all:

"Since a few people have been confused, just to confirm this is on [DATE]. Can't wait to see you all!"


It'll accomplish a few things:
-confirm the date
-let other people decide if they want to discuss the 4th/5th Tuesday issue as a group policy
-not single Pat out
-subtly suggest that most people reply privately without, like, saying it

Don't take this so seriously.
posted by phunniemee at 8:12 AM on September 9, 2014 [22 favorites]


If one other person seems confused about your date being the fourth Tuesday rather than the last, you can reply all to your original email to restate the date.

Otherwise, ignore Pat. There's a Pat in every group.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:13 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ignore.

If you can't bear to ignore (I am positively terrible at ignoring) then do not, under any circumstances, reply all. Shoot a private email to Pat saying, "Since the host usually makes their own call when there are 5 Tuesdays in a month, I chose the week that works best for me. I hope you can make it!" and no more!

To be honest, from an outside point of view, Pat's email sounds inocuous. Some people reply all with no ill intent. Even if Pat is a manipulative asshole, this particular action just doesn't seem that bad to me. On the other hand, that doesn't mean you have to cater to Pat's needs.

Therefore, best answer is to be polite yet not engage.
posted by latkes at 8:21 AM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I wouldn't necessarily assume she was trying to be all social-undermine-y - she may have very well meant just to reply to you and hit "reply all" by accident because that kind of shit happens ALL the time.

I'd treat it as such, sending a follow-up "yeah, this is how I understand the deal, so to confirm that it is on [date] and email me directly if you have any followup questions. Hope you can make it!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:22 AM on September 9, 2014


I'm torn.

My gut (and past experience) says to utterly ignore this. It won't end well, I think, if you reply.

What Pat wrote was kinda weird/rude.

I think you should delete the email and think no more of it.
posted by jbenben at 8:25 AM on September 9, 2014


You (and your fellow club members) need to learn to use BCC and not CC in the future.

CC works when there are maybe three or four people. BCC works infinitely better for larger groups of recipients, particularly when some of them aren't email-savvy. When sending emails to the club I run (45 members) I just BCC a list I created called 'TheClub'. Everyone gets an email from me, with no visible recipients other than themselves. The email starts with 'Dear Club', so they know it's going out to everyone. This also solves any privacy concerns - not everyone will want you sharing their email address with the group.

Unless there's a compelling reason to allow people to reply to the entire group, stop using CC.
posted by pipeski at 8:30 AM on September 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


Wow- from a simple one-line question, people are reading a lot into this.

Even if Pat is usually negative, this question could very well be simple absent-mindedness, and for the sake of reduced drama I would suggest you view it that way even if it's not. Not everyone has a built-in calendar in their head and many people get confused by dates and times (myself included). Plus, lots of people hit "reply all" without really meaning to. Lots of misunderstandings and drama can come from reading negative intention where they might be none.

Don't make it into a big thing. Just reply simply and politely that the meetings are usually the 4th or 5th Tuesday, and you are setting this one on the 4th Tuesday.
posted by bearette at 8:31 AM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you ignore Pat's email, the question is still open. The group discussion is left like this:

You: X.
Pat: I thought Y.
You: (silence)

The best course is to reply all, explain your understanding of policy, and reaffirm the date you've chosen.
posted by in278s at 8:32 AM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


Damn, you lot are harsh! Can't we take Pat at her word? i.e. she thought you always meet on the last Tuesday of the month and she wants to know if she's wrong. In which case the answer you give her is the same as what you told us...

"The date is usually the last Tuesday of the month, and yet when there are five Tuesdays in a calendar month, the host has the option to hold the meeting on either the fourth Tuesday of the month or the fifth Tuesday of the month - whichever of the two dates works better for the host"

I would reply all, since other people might be wondering the same.
posted by tsh at 8:32 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


A lot of people think you should not assume Pat meant to be rude.

Did you faithfully reproduce here what Pat wrote?

Unless Pat wrote a variation of this, then pat was being terse and rude.

"Dear Hush,

I thought the date was the last Tuesday of the month. Can you clarify? Thanks.

- Pat"


You can reply to Pat privately, being as polite and brief as possible, but please do not Reply All. The people in the club are already as put off by Pat's message as you feel.
posted by jbenben at 8:33 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


The people in the club are already as put off by Pat's message as you feel.

How do you know that no one in the club is confused on the issue like Pat is?

They all still need the information that the date originally mentioned is correct.
posted by in278s at 8:36 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Whatever your previous interactions with this person, he or she only asked a question. You should reply dispassionately.

I believe that when there are five Tuesdays in a calendar month, the host has the option to hold the meeting on either the fourth Tuesday of the month or the fifth Tuesday of the month. Regardless, the date of the XX is the only date on which I can host. So, just to avoid confusion, this month's event will be:

HERE on DATE and TIME

Hope everyone can make it!

posted by DarlingBri at 8:37 AM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Pat's question was direct and terse. I've had plenty of communications with people via text and email that go that way, and we are not being rude to each other. Even if Pat's intention was to be rude, you don't know that by the question and there is no point in assuming it. This is exactly how misunderstandings occur!
posted by bearette at 8:38 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'd say something like "We usually meet on the fourth and last Tuesday of the month, but in a month with five Tuesdays, the host has always had the discretion to pick the fourth OR last Tuesday of the month (that is, the 4th or 5th)" in a reply-all, just calmly and informationally. And, yeah, say anyone with other questions can e-mail you directly.

This might well be genuine confusion, not undermining; my book club does "fourth Sunday" of the month and every time there's a fifth Sunday it throws people off because some people keep mental track by "fourth Sunday" and some people keep track by "last Sunday." The last-Sunday people all have to double-check in odd months, it's not a big deal.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:38 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would ignore any perceived tone and reply to all as roomthreeseventeen has suggested. "I was under the impression that... is that still the arrangement?" Try to nail it down going forward. For this time I would stick to my planned date but with apologies or whatever; just tersely reiterating that this is the date you are going to do it sets a funny tone with a group of people who are supposed to be friends. (Yeah you don't like this person, but when it's a group of friends you should treat people in accordance with how you feel about the group.)
posted by BibiRose at 8:41 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


"How do you know that no one in the club is confused on the issue like Pat is?"


I have unique experience with this phenomenon. Our landlord routinely takes a dump on the tenants via mass email.

Until we all started verbally communicating on it, years went by where I thought I was the only one so emotionally upset to read rude messages in my inbox, even if they were not directed at me, personally, in terms of content.

Anyone with questions can email the host directly.

It's unpleasant for the group to keep this going by hitting "Reply All."

This advice only applies if the message Pat sent was as terse, rude, and weird as what was reproduced in the question.

A challenging toned one-liner is no way to address the host of a monthly event, either singly or via Reply All.

The other recipients did not feel good after reading that, even if the same question occurred to them.
posted by jbenben at 8:56 AM on September 9, 2014


This is one of those situations where you could assume ill feeling, or you could just decide she didn't mean anything by it.

I would do the latter, just to save myself the drama.

I would reply all again and just write something breezy like, "As long as it's OK with everyone, I'd like to keep it on [previously mentioned date]. Sound good?"

Either Pat will go or not, whatever. If there's a bunch of people who all can't make your preferred date, you may need to revisit, but there are two options here, both sound equally good (Tuesday A vs Tuesday B), and it's not like this sets a dangerous precedent or anything. It's not a situation that comes up all that often. Shit happens. Whatever.

I would not mention anything about it to Pat, either in the reply-all clarification that the date stands, or in a private email. Life's too short, you know?
posted by Sara C. at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Do not attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. I'd mass email everyone explaining what you explained here about host having a choice of Tuesdays & the meetup will be on such and such date. You don't have to name names, just a friendly chatty email reply all email to "clear up any confusion", if she doesn't drop it after that go to private emails.
posted by wwax at 9:23 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I agree with bearette and DarlingBri. It seems to me that you are interpreting Pat's terse message in light of your earlier bad interactions with her. It struck me as direct but not necessarily rude. A brief answer explaining the 4th vs. last Tuesday issue would be appropriate.

And if your email program lets you specify a "reply-to" header, include one that has only your email. That way, replies won't go to everyone by default.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:24 AM on September 9, 2014


I would reply all again and just write something breezy like, "As long as it's OK with everyone, I'd like to keep it on [previously mentioned date]. Sound good?"

I would personally not respond, but if you do respond, OP, don't offer an option that you already know won't work for you.
posted by winna at 9:25 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


OP here to answer some commenters' questions:

@pipeski: "You (and your fellow club members) need to learn to use BCC and not CC in the future."

Dude, I always BCC, and I checked again and I can confirm I did exactly that in this case. But Pat added the entire group's emails to the CC line in response to my email, actively making this a reply-all. Got that? There are 13 people in this group, and everyone has everyone else's email address because we need to email monthly to set up the meetings.

@jbenben: "Did you faithfully reproduce here what Pat wrote?"

Yes, I reproduced Pat's actual email message here verbatim. Again, Pat wrote this exactly: "We usually meet on the last Tuesday. Did we change this one?" To be perfectly clear, again: nothing else was in Pat's message -- only these 12 words.

Thanks for all the great replies!
posted by hush at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


You're reading way too much into Pat's email, and Pat isn't actually wrong here: you guys do usually meet on the last Tuesday. You sound like the cranky person, not Pat, especially with your blanket hatred of reply-all emails.

Send a reply-all to clarify, and write it as if the question had come from someone you're on friendly or neutral terms with.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


Yeah if you can ONLY do Date X, and Date Y wouldn't even be an option at all, I wouldn't offer to change the dates. In that case, I would send something equally breezy that said, "Just to reiterate, we are keeping X as the date. Sorry about any confusion!"
posted by Sara C. at 9:32 AM on September 9, 2014


I had this happen once; the well-meaning friend actually invited additional people to a party I was throwing. I was pissed, of course, but let it go to allow everyone involved to save face, myself included. It's hard but, in the long term, it's preferable to alienating people. Plus, rest assured that all the invitees are probably acutely aware of Pat's small etiquette faux pas in not replying to you privately, and their awkward tone, and will think more of you for letting it slide than making a federal case of things.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 9:32 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think there's a very real possibility that Pat genuinely thinks you have made a mistake and believes that other people might be confused by that mistake. Respond, "I know we usually have it on the last Tuesday but we've also had it on the fourth Tuesday even when the fourth Tuesday is not the last Tuesday. Hope everyone can make it!" (You need to reply-all because even if there wasn't confusion before there is now.)

I mean, Pat was a little terse and maybe should have asked you as an individual before cc'ing everyone, but I don't see it as necessarily undermining (though s/he may well have intended it to be), and you don't *need* to treat it as such. Behave generously; the rest of the people in your group know Pat and will interpret Pat's behavior as they see fit.
posted by mskyle at 9:44 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think a simple reply-all that went:

Hi Pat,
The only Tuesday I can host this month is |date|. I hope to see you and anyone else that can come!
Me

Personally, I would not apologize, nor would I try to explain the whole 4th vs 5th thing as it's too likely to lead to confusion. I also wouldn't put any direction for people not to reply all, unless your email group is particular prone to the reply-all chain reaction getting out of control.

The focus of this particular email chain should be the invitation date and time.

If there were any additional replies after sending that email out, then I would redirect those replies into a separate discussion that ideally would be held after the meeting.


posted by forforf at 9:58 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd reply to all: "Pat - The date is usually the last Tuesday of the month, but when there are five Tuesdays in a calendar month, the host has the option to hold the meeting on either the fourth Tuesday of the month or the fifth Tuesday of the month - whichever of the two dates works better for the host. So this month it'll be on date X. See you there!"
posted by festivus at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Pat's email reads like a neutral clarification question to me. I would think that she'd cc everyone so that it *wouldn't* seem like the question was targeted at just you or was a "correction" about just this date specifically. To me, it seems like she's asking a general question about how the group chooses dates, so she's asking the group as a whole how you guys choose dates. Presumably, she needs to know that so that she'll know which Tuesdays to be sure to leave free for future meetings and so she knows when to schedule the meeting that she's hosting.

You know Pat, and probably have a better handle on reading her intentions than I do, so I'm not saying that your interpretation is definitely wrong. I think that there's definitely room to interpret her email as a good-faith question, though. For the sake of your peace of mind and fostering good will within the group, I think that if you can see even a possibility that this is a good-faith clarification question and that she didn't mean to offend, then you should answer her question in that spirit. Since this is a general scheduling question that affects the entire group/is about the scheduling guidelines for the group, I think that you do need to do a reply-all so that everyone is sure on the meeting date and how the group's scheduling works.

Personally, I'd reply-all and explain your reasoning just like you did in this AskMe, and confirm that the meeting that you're hosting is on [date] at [place] and [time]. If you think that Pat tends toward rigidity and might give pushback at the idea of "too much" being left to the host's discretion, a (very) slightly different explanation could be that you thought that the meeting was always on the fourth Tuesday of the month, though on months with five Tuesdays, the host may decide to push the meeting date to the fifth Tuesday if she prefers. Whatever works for you.

Other group members might end up weighing in on the "rules" for future scheduling logistics, even though the date for the specific meeting you've already scheduled is firm, because Pat's question might end up being a catalyst for the group to clarify their scheduling guidelines generally. If that happens, please try to look at it as the group just hashing out guidelines and not any kind of personal correction directed at you. I have no doubt that would be how it would be meant, in any case.
posted by rue72 at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2014


This is why I use MailChimp. There is no way to reply-all. Meetup also allows for comment threading.
posted by Nevin at 10:18 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Upon OP's update - whoa.

Since Pat manually added an additional 12 emails to their query to the OP, then Pat could have also added "Please," "Thank you," or any other acceptable polite terms to avoid being mean in an email message Pat purposefully wanted everyone to read.


I strongly doubt anyone thought Pat wasn't being yucky, even if the question was genuine.

Proceed in which ever way shields the group from future unpleasantness.

Maybe this question is "a thing" going on in the group, and that can be addressed later... But for the sake of maintaining civility, don't take Pat's bait and risk stinking up the group dynamic.
posted by jbenben at 10:30 AM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


People like Pat are the worst. The fact that Pat added everyone when it was a BCC chain makes me hate Pat even more.

I have co-workers who do the passive-aggressive reply-all and I quickly learned to ignore them because any response got another reply-all response attempting to one-up me. You can just ignore her altogether and send out a reminder email before the meeting reaffirming the date you chose.

If you think the date question is still open, you probably have to address it then. I would reply all and say, "x date didn't work for this. The meeting is on x. But if you have any further questions, direct them to me off chain so we can discuss without filling everyone's inbox - thanks!" But if you have a friend in the group willing to reply-all and say "The third Tuesday of the month sounds great. That's what I was planning on. Look forward to seeing everyone then!" then maybe you can all just ignore Pat.

I'm guessing the group knows that Pat is insufferable, to be honest.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:27 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I always BCC, and I checked again and I can confirm I did exactly that in this case. But Pat added the entire group's emails to the CC line in response to my email, actively making this a reply-all.

Okay, that changes things.

I mean, I would still take the high road, because Pat's done a great job of making herself look evil. But a simple "It was my understanding that in the case of a month with five Tuesdays that the host did [foo], so I did that. If that's not the case, my apologies for the confusion. If the third Tuesday presents no other objections to anyone else, may we go ahead?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:35 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


To be clear, OP, so far no one has said a peep. Only Pat had a problem?

If so - do not engage!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


@Lesser Shrew - Yep. Only Pat had a problem.

Three of the other group members already replied back to my original BCC email to let me know privately they'll be coming on my date. Then a fourth member responded to Pat's CC reply all basically telling Pat to knock it off: "The way it has always been is the host gets to have the meeting on whichever date they please - it's their house! How is that not obvious, Pat?"
posted by hush at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


Oh, perfect.

Then at most, all I'd do is issue one last "so, just to re-confirm, the event will be on [date]. Hope to see you all there!" and then leave it. Someone else laid the smackdown on Pat for you, and you didn't even have to break a nail. Perfect!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:57 PM on September 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


That fourth person's reply tells you everything you need to know about how everyone else feels about Pat. Ha!
posted by winna at 2:11 PM on September 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


LOL at the fourth person's email. Is that verbatim? That's pretty harsh, but Pat had it coming. In this case, I think closer to the date you send a reminder email. I'd not respond to Pat or the chain.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:22 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


When someone is maybe being a pain, or maybe confused, I make a point of being very cheerful in my reply. If they were really trying to prove a point, it just makes them look churlish, and if they were just confused, then I have been gracious. Lovely that someone else told Pat to chill; that really allows you to explain helpfully and take the high road.
posted by theora55 at 2:25 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Now I kind of feel bad for poor ol' Pat.

O, Pat - why is it always so hard for you?

Pat Pat Pat. There's always a Pat.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:52 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't read any malice into Pat's question at all-- it reads to me like the kind of tossed-off query that many people would spend very little time writing, probably not expecting it to be analyzed in such, or indeed any, detail.

I would write something quick and without hints of reproach eg, hey pat, it's a 5 Tuesday month and I can only do (date), hope you can still make it, best.

Then just put it out of your mind, leave any in- depth discussion of meeting rules for when the group meets in person, and pat will come or not, and the whole thing will not be a big deal.
posted by Henrietta Stackpole at 5:01 PM on September 9, 2014


Henrietta - what tipped the balance for me was when Pat deliberately made a point of typing everyone's name into the "cc to" part of the email. That wasn't accidental, that was a deliberate, conscious "I want everyone to see me respond to this" move.

Okay, maybe she was sincerely confused about the schedule and was trying to include eveyrone in the loop because she was afraid they would miss out, but it was still not really something tossed-off, there was some intent here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:23 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


"The way it has always been is the host gets to have the meeting on whichever date they please - it's their house! How is that not obvious, Pat?"

I read that as a magnitude ruder than Pat's original question, which at least allowed for a charitable interpretation. This one is just outright hostile and doesn't deserve any high-fives. But glad it solves your problem, I guess.
posted by sageleaf at 7:22 PM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


You've marked some good answers.

If I was a bystander on that email chain, I would definitely recommend a reply-all to reconfirm the date (even if it was nothing more) simply because otherwise I'd be confused as to what the actual date for the event now was.
posted by mr_silver at 4:21 AM on September 10, 2014


I read that as a magnitude ruder than Pat's original question,

Yes, but Pat has a history of this kind of thing! The group is at the end of its tether and just can't take anymore from Pat.
posted by hazyjane at 9:21 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


If Pat isn't welcome, don't invite Pat. But asking for clarification of a date and time is not "social undermining," even for high-schoolers. The idea that Pat must be slapped down is disturbing, as is the pile-on glee exhibited by some in this thread.
posted by sageleaf at 7:40 PM on September 12, 2014


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