Rude BehaviourIn my dual role as ICT Coordinator and Teacher of ICT, I receive a lot of emails from students, invariably asking for help with some aspect of their computing environment. Whilst the majority of these responses are polite and well written, a there are those that are so informal they border on rude. In the past I have written an individual response to such students asking them to rewrite their message with the application of some manners.

I feel that this is the least I can do in the pursuit of raising students who are polite and able to interact positively with others. After several years of this, I have finally gotten around to creating a canned response for dealing with such cases. Hopefully students will get both the message, and the humour intended. So, at the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man:

Dear Esteemed Student,

Thank you for your recent email, in which you very concisely requested my help in relation to your educational and/or computing needs. Whilst your email has many redeeming features, such as its small on-screen footprint and low storage requirements, it lacked one especially critical element: manners.

In my experience there are certain social conventions to which one should adhere when asking for help with something. This is especially vital in cases where you actually hope for the person being asked (me, in this case) to agree to the act being requested (helping you).

To start with, it is best to begin your message with a polite greeting (Dear Mr. Parker). Having opened in this polite fashion, you may wish to pursue a little small talk (How are you, my esteemed teacher and guide? I do hope your cat Mr. Evil has recovered from his nasty turn and subsequent operation). Whilst small talk is strictly optional, some people find it to be a suitable social lubricant, aiding us all in the business of getting things done.

After stating your request in a polite manner it is best to end with an expression of gratitude (Thank you in advance for your kind help), before finally signing off (Regards, A. Student).

Seeing as most of your teachers were born prior to the invention of the World Wide Web (1991), and the subsequent downfall of polite social intercourse, you may also wish to consider using appropriate capitalisation and punctuation, whilst simultaneously restricting your use of TLAs (that’s Three Letter Acronyms BTW. OMG IRL I PWN TLAs N00B, LOL!!!).

If you are serious about receiving my help, please take just a little time to rewrite your original email with the aim of bringing it into line with these traditional norms of polite human interaction. I am sure that, with such a request in hand, I will gladly undertake to help you with your every ICT need.

Kind regards,

Mr. Parker

Image Credit: Rude Behaviour image by cisc1970 on Flickr, shared under CC BY-NC.