On the news and the blogs for the last few days has been a very impressive response to a nasty email in my home state of Wisconsin. (See Huff Post story here that has both the original segment from Tuesday and the Today Show segment from Wednesday. ) Many of us teaching negotiation talk about email communication, the dangers of anonymity, the risks of untrustworthy behavior, and the importance of taking time to respond rather than responding in kind to a flaming email. But I’ve never seen such an eloquent and well-thought out response to a flaming email as the one presented Tuesday by Wisconsin TV anchor Jessica Livingston. Upon receiving an email last Friday that basically told her she was too fat to be on the air, she took the time to reflect and marshal her very impressive communication skills. Her tv segment (linked here also with some commentary from Vibe) is not only a cautionary tail on emails, but a heartfelt plea against bullying and for civility instead. Let me also note my dismay that the man who sent her email happens to be a lawyer, a successful law student who was editor-in-chief of his law review (according to the firm’s page), and likely a successful practicing attorney as well. What possessed this gentleman to take time from his otherwise busy day to watch tv and then type out his judgmental missive is a mystery. But there are a few lessons here–first, in case you didn’t already know, anything you put in an email could appear on the Today Show and NBC Nightly News. as this email already has. Think before you type. Second, I imagine that within the local LaCrosse community, there may well be ramifications for this lawyer’s reputation and future clientele. Maybe clients will hire him because of his, now national, reputation for bullying. More likely, a client could well wonder about this lawyer’s tact and people skills. And finally, as Ms. Livingston reminds us, we are all better than this. Civility should be the mainstay of how we lawyers communicate–in person and in email.
Last 5 posts by Andrea Schneider
- Boskey Competition Reminder--June 14th Deadline - May 8th, 2013
- Israel Reflections 2013--American Perspectives on the Middle East - April 25th, 2013
- ADR on Top Five List of What Needs More Attention From Legal Academy - April 20th, 2013
- Israel Reflections 2013--A Meeting with a Judicial Giant - April 17th, 2013
- Israel Reflections 2013--It's Still Complicated - April 15th, 2013