September 05, 2013

Open Letter To Harvard

"Thank you for sharing your idea with Due to the volume of submissions we receive, we are not able to respond personally to each inquiry. Please know that if we are interested in publishing your work, we will contact you directly.
The HBR Web Editors"
Dear HBR Web Editors,

Thank you so much for your email.

Before I sent in my submission to the Harvard Business Review, I read on your website that you were very busy and would only respond to me if the piece in question was accepted for publication.

Imagine how surprised I was when I received an email from you informing me, once again, that I would only hear from you if my piece was accepted.

It was very thoughtful of you to write to let me know that I probably wouldn't be hearing from you. Although, honestly, I'm not sure why it is easier to write to tell me that I  won't be hearing from you than it is to write when it's time to write. It seems like either way you are writing once. Then again, if my piece is accepted, you will be writing twice. So why not wait and just write once?

Now, to be honest here, I flunked algebra and you guys are from Harvard, so there's probably something about computers or quantum theory or gender studies that I don't understand that has to do with why it's easier to write twice than once. But, just in case, I'd have someone in the math department check this out. I mean, you guys are busy, right?

Big picture, Harvard, I wish more people would be as considerate as you are and communicate with me when they think they will not be communicating with me.

I am trying to follow your good example by sending you this email to inform you that if I do not hear from you again I will not be responding. Frankly, I am just too busy right now to answer emails that I don't get. Please understand, there is nothing personal in this. There are so many emails that I am not receiving every day that it would take hours -- maybe days -- to respond to all of them.

Like you, I believe it is important to keep in touch with those we plan not to be in touch with. Consequently, I am going to telephone a great many of my friends this week to explain to them why I will not be calling. I think it is the polite thing to do (I was also thinking about texting my cell phone contacts to explain why I won't be texting them but those messaging charges are frickin' amazeballs, right?)

Thank you once again for your thoughtfulness. And if you do not hear from me again, please consider it my personal way of staying in touch.

Yours truly,

Bob Hoffman


Tedel said...


Bob, you've really made me laugh with this one. Certainly if I don't comment on each of your posts it doesn't mean I am not reading you.

What can I say? I am not from Harvard either. Maybe I don't get it.

Rob Hatfiled said...

If the phone doesn't's me.

Roy Kissel said...

Automatic generated responses like the one you mention are a direct byproduct of the information age, and they couldn't be more impersonal. Individuals, companies and organizations use them to be more efficient, but getting a response from a machine screams not caring and insensitivity. Communication has and will always be at its best when it occurs face to face.

Carl Zetie said...

Thank you for sharing your post with the Internet. Due to the volume of posts we receive, we are unable to comment personally on each post. Please note that if we are interested in commenting on your post, we will comment directly.

Heather Physioc said...

It may be impersonal, but it's transparent and it manages expectations. Doesn't bother me.

CaliforniaGirl500 said...

I'm going to try this next time I get a non-response.

Michael J said...

Spaulding: What do you fellows get an hour?
Ravelli: Oh, for playing we getta ten dollars an hour.
Spaulding: I see...What do you get for not playing?
Ravelli: Twelve dollars an hour.
Spaulding: Well, clip me off a piece of that.
Ravelli: Now, for rehearsing we make special rate. Thatsa 15 dollars an hour.
Spaulding: That's for rehearsing?
Ravelli: Thatsa for rehearsing.
Spaulding: And what do you get for not rehearsing?
Ravelli: You couldn't afford it

Hello, I must be going...

Cecille B. Demille said...

Bravo, brothers Marx.