Jodi Blackwood, an etiquette teacher in Vancouver, USA, is a lady I correspond with often. I told her that my newsletters are strictly opt-in, while I so often receive unsolicited e-mail. She said she had just written her own newsletter exactly on that subject. I am allowed to forward it to you.

Possession does not mean permission.

Have you ever exchanged business or contact cards with someone, thinking she might be a good person to follow up with at a later date, or that it would be helpful to have his contact information on file? Instead, you find yourself on the receiving end of newsletters, company announcements, industry alerts, invitations to upcoming events that have nothing to do with your line of business, non-stop promotions, and so-forth.

You probably don’t share your contact information with someone because you want to be added to their blanket email list. And just because you have obtained someone’s e-mail address does not mean you also have their permission to include them on your distribution list. To do so, uninvited and without authorization, is not only rude, but may also be illegal. Either way, it speaks poorly of you and your sense of professional courtesy.

So when this happens, what do you do?

Keeping in mind that I am referring to the emails that arrive from people you have actually met at networking or social events, and not the constant stream of spam that fills our in-boxes, it may be as easy as clicking the “Unsubscribe” button typically located at the bottom of the email page, or sending a reply with the words “Please remove me from your email list” in the subject line.

But what happens if the offender is a client or important customer, perhaps a mentor, a former boss, or a valued colleague, and you are concerned about damaging your relationship?

1. Send a personal note: “Thank you for the information — I appreciate you thinking of me. However, I am finding my email inbox overwhelmed with messages and ask you to remove me from your mailing list.”

2. Adding a final “I appreciate your help with this.” is a nice touch. The point is to let the sender know you want to put a stop to the emails, not the relationship.

3. Do nothing. Grit your teeth and continue to hit Delete. After all, is it really that much of a bother?

Keep in mind that including you on a mailing list is not done out of maliciousness, but because someone thought you would genuinely appreciate the information. The majority of people will remove you promptly upon your request – no one wants to hold you captive.

Bottom line, if the person did not agree to be put on the mailing list, their name should not be included. People should not have to opt out of something they never signed up for (credit card companies, are you listening?)

Professional reputations are at stake.


What People are Saying

I was at the 2012 National Conference for my real estate company last week in Vancouver, and at a cocktail party, I was getting chilly. I leaned back, as I was trying to get my arms into a cardigan, while my lose blouse fluted out from my tummy, and the gentleman standing in the ?chat circle? with me said: ?So, how far along are you?? I just smiled and told him, ?No problem, baggy blouse – ? easy mistake to make.?
Linda Murphy
Royal LePage

Oh, these are fantastic … and so accurate! I even had someone ask me when I was due when I hadn’t gained weight … I was 19 but happened to be wearing a very cute dress that had a yoke at the shoulders but no waist .. just a straight, slightly full fit. I laughed it off but the man was mortified. I have a feeling he never did it again!
Jodi Blackwood
Business Etiquette & Customer Service Specialist

As usual, a great Newsletter, Adeodata! It made me smile. ?A guy I worked with asked about a due date only to find out that there wasn’t one. ?My rule is that unless someone tells me I’m not going to ask. ?Not good manners…. good self defence.
Clive Lewis


UpComing Events

International Etiquette
Friday, December 7, 2012
100 Dowling Avenue, Toronto


Teen Etiquette
Saturday, January 19, 2013
100 Dowling Avenue, Toronto