Q: When it comes to my family members, if I have a question or find something interesting, I’ll send an email at that moment, so I don’t forget about it later.
Sometimes it’s at 11 at night when I know they’ll be asleep; sometimes it’s at 7 in the morning when I know they’ll be getting ready for their day and don’t have time. I don’t expect them to read it right away, anyway. The messages are never urgent, and if there is ever an emergency, I just call.
One close family member has been emailing me as soon as my email is noticed, with messages saying, “I’m busy, will read later” or “Can’t get to this now, will try to get to it tonight.”
I’m just sharing cute pictures of my kids or links to homes I’m looking into. The immediate non-reply is, for some reason, off-putting.
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Is the weird vibe a sign that I need to reserve emailing this close family member only when asked to? Is it normal to send the “I’m busy but will get to this when I can” message regarding this type of email?
I’m under the impression that it would just be better to wait until one is able to read the email in full and, even if it’s a day or so later, then send a reply. But I might be the odd one out here.
A: Your relative has similar questions, Miss Manners assures you.
Will he or she offend you if there is not an immediate answer? What about other obligations, including not just sleep and breakfast, but attending to any real live people who might be present?
Unrealistic as is the hope of meeting everyone’s expectations, your relative should be given credit for trying. If the instant non-response truly bothers you, you might assuage those cares by providing instructions in the subject line of your next email: “Pictures of the house. No reply necessary,” or simply, “Cute pix NRN.”
Q: My siblings are hosting a milestone event for a parent. I and one of my siblings can afford and want to spend the money to make the event special.
The other two siblings are just getting by paycheck to paycheck and really don’t have discretionary money to spend. How do we politely decline financial help to plan the party when we know the other two cannot afford to pay?
A: Although Miss Manners has no objection to caviar and champagne, let us agree that it is not the spending of money that will make the event special, but rather the time spent with family and friends.
Then your problem becomes more manageable. The organizing of the event will require participation of all the siblings. Assign the responsibilities in a way that distributes evenly the effort required but leaves the larger expenditures to those with both discretionary income and discretion. No comparison of who has decided to contribute what need be made.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.