Rachel, I thought I was done with him
The writer got an email from a man at her old agency asking for a favor
September 21, 2012
I joined a new agency about a year ago. There was a guy at my old agency that I couldn't stand — he was a brown-noser and took credit for things he didn't do, and I was glad to be away from him. I suspected the feeling was mutual, so I was surprised to receive an email from him the other day asking for a favor. I'm tempted to completely ignore him or, better yet, reply back saying exactly what I think of him. Unfortunately, we have many of the same business acquaintances, and I generally think burning bridges is unwise. What should I do? — Sign me Miffed in Michigan
There's a big difference between burning bridges and staying clear of people with whom you've had difficulty in the past, and how to do that smartly is an invaluable skill.
I think it's safe to assume that you have nothing to gain by reconnecting with this person, and I advise you that you have no obligation, personal or professional, to do so.
Whatever you do, do not send him an email telling him what a jerk you think he is. He's not going to decide to become less of a jerk after reading it, and in an odd way you would be giving him some sense of satisfaction that at some level he got his hooks into you.
People like that tend to relish any sort of reaction, no matter how hostile, as proof of the power of their personalities.
How you do respond depends on the favor he's asking.
If it's simply for a name of someone, say the head of HR, wait a day or so and shoot back the email with the name and nothing else.
If the information he's asking for is more substantial, shoot back an email, again several days later, saying that you can't help him but pointing to some public source. Again, keep it short and impersonal.
If what he's asking you is a substantial favor, such as giving him a reference or having you introduce him to someone, simply decline the request with whatever excuse seems most handy.
"Sorry, I'm working under a terrible deadline and don't have the time."
"Sorry, I don't know her well enough to do that for you."
"Sorry, but . . ."
You get the idea. Your excuse doesn’t need to sound the least bit convincing. Your aim is to leave him with a dead end of sorts that discourages him from attempting further contact.
If you do it right, he'll feel vaguely blown off and decide to pester someone else who'd also prefer not to be hearing from him again.
CBS dominates a slow Thursday night
This month’s new media traffic data
The year that was: 2014 by the numbers
As other spending slows, digital surges
‘Galavant,’ ambitious but disappointing
As the year ends, Rachel reminisces
What will be the big media stories of 2015?
Best tube bets this weekend
Cable overnights: ‘Colbert Report’ surges
Networks: Hey, don’t let Aereo do that
Order from Amazon, get it in an hour
Survey: People trust the internet, for now
Vme TV airing Christmas marathon
- Justine Bloome becomes head of strategy at Carat USA
- Carol Duncan becomes SVP and CFO at Barker
- Bill Robinson becomes VP of partnership development at Home Team Sports
- Sharon Dastur becomes SVP of programming integration at iHeartMedia
- Tasneem Raja becomes senior digital editor at NPR
- Mike Wilson becomes editor at The Dallas Morning News
- Ian Bremmer becomes foreign affairs columnist at Time
- Dan Berman and Sacha Scoblic join National Journal
- Cosme Lopez rises to SVP and GM of pay-TV at Cisneros Media
- John Lambertus becomes VP of revenue operations at Vdopia
- Former CBS News executive Emerson Stone dies at 86
This month’s new media traffic data
This week’s cable ratings
This week’s broadcast ratings
This week’s top movies, songs and books
This week’s daypart ratings
This week’s younger viewer ratings
Media buyer opening in Memphis
Media planner/buyer wanted in Boston
Needed: Digital media coordinator in Roswell, Ga.
Media buyer/digital strategist job in Cedar Falls, Iowa
Broadcast media buyer wanted in Denver