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A lecturer for a course I am attending was late for a class, and as they had sent an e-mail a few days before mentioning a different classroom, the class was confused about whether we should go to this classroom or not. I decided to send the lecturer an e-mail to clarify whether the class location had changed.

In the end, the lecturer appeared about ten minutes late. That could've been the end of the story, but the lecturer sent an e-mail today (to me only) stating that I "was the only one confused [about the matter]!". I find this rude and inappropriate - they could have just let it slide, or at least apologised for being late.

I realise that I caused some minor noise in their inbox through my e-mail - but it is not enough, in my opinion, to respond rudely.

My University is running a campaign on respect among students and teachers. I would like to respond in a way that clarifies that I think they were rude, while keeping in mind that I will have the class for the rest of the semester with this lecturer.

Should I respond - in that case, how? - , or should I simply ignore it?

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    If the lecturer was late, it is implied that he or she was also "confused." Perhaps he or she meant to type that you were "not the only one confused about the matter" but forgot to write the "not" by mistake? – Joel Reyes Noche Nov 10 '17 at 13:01
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    @Joel I'd like to think that that were the case, but the phrasing implied how astonished they were that I would even consider the possibility of the classroom changing. But I appreciate the angle! – FerventHippo Nov 10 '17 at 13:04
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    Surely, you have more important things to spend your time on. Just let it go. – Mad Jack Nov 10 '17 at 13:39
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    You are too sensitive regarding perceived rudeness. I'd simply write back "I've sent this e-mail after discussing the issue with others. I was not the only student wondering if we were in the wrong room." Your goal here should be to ensure that the lecturer communicates in a way that ensures you don't miss lectures. – Roland Nov 10 '17 at 13:45
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    @SolarMike I am not (very) concerned that the lecturer was late. That happens. I was concerned that the lecturer responded to my e-mail - written in a friendly manner to ensure the lecture could proceed as soon as possible in case of a misunderstanding - by implying that I am the only one in the class that is not able to follow instructions. I would have appreciated an apology, but I don't consider this issue specifically rude. – FerventHippo Nov 10 '17 at 14:02
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It sounds like the instructor was about 10 minutes late to class, leading to the entire class being confused about whether or not to go into the classroom?

That's somewhat embarrassing for the instructor. By being late and forcing a bunch of students to wait, in addition to apparently having some confusion about location, they dropped the ball. And especially if they're worried about getting tenure, they may've been concerned about coming off as unprofessional in the eyes of the students who'll be writing their teacher evaluation at the end of the semester.

In short, their response sounds mostly defensive to my ear. They were basically trying to say,

I was just 10 minutes late, and I don't think that there should've been confusion about the classroom location. Please don't dock me on the evaluation later!

The appropriate response might be to be supportive.

  • Directly emailing them back would probably be the wrong way to go, as it'd seem to make the issue larger. Rather, what's needed is for everyone to move on.

  • If they're a more secure type, then basically not bringing it up again's probably enough, since they're over it.

  • If they're a less secure type, then a nice-but-subtle gesture can clarify the issue. This might mean asking a good question in class that they'd enjoy answering (on an interesting point; not a gotcha-question, but also not trivializing), followed by a quick-but-sincere "thank you" after they answer.

And, that basically covers their side of it. Then there's your side of it.

The way I see it, you've got two approaches:

  1. @ThorstenS.'s approach, for the reasons they'd stated.

  2. Emperor Palpatine would recommend dwelling on it and internalizing such injustices into an inner ball of fury, if you'd like to transition to the Dark Side.

Now @ThorstenS.'s position has its advantages. Stuff like having a happy life and healthy mind set can be enjoyable. But then again, anger leads to hate, hate leads to... something... and, in the end, there's cookies and possibly lightning hands. So, ya know, personal preference there.

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    Minor confession: Yes, yes I did answer this question primarily to make a Star Wars reference. – Nat Nov 12 '17 at 3:55
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    I'd accepted @ThorstenS's answer, but yours gave me some concrete suggestions in different situations, and also the Empire did nothing wrong. – FerventHippo Nov 12 '17 at 14:54
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    Your 2nd approach seems less Emperor Palpatine and more Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons. – tjd Nov 13 '17 at 17:52
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Sincerely? Let it go. The tone is also not "low-key insulting" (that means a personal disparaging attack on you), it is dismissive/snotty/irritated (do not bother me with this stuff).

The thing is that you are reading a lot (IMHO too much) into this. I'm not saying that you are wrong, but it sounds that you are in danger of spending precious lifetime for collecting perceived slights. You have already used approx. 1 hour of your lifetime to ask this question, and probably several hours of suppressed anger pondering his answer.

Really, the easiest way is to think "Perhaps he has eaten something bad today/has relationship problems", or whatever. Remember: once is chance, twice is coincidence, thrice is a pattern. If it happens three times, then it is time to act.

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    Ian Fleming wrote, "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, thrice is enemy action." – Malvolio Nov 10 '17 at 17:47
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    @Nat He and Darthie are also the most notorious violators of the Evil Overlord List. And what happened to them, hm? HM? – Thorsten S. Nov 11 '17 at 16:08
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    Yes, "is it worth my time" is definitely the best advice in many, and especially this, situation. – DVK Nov 11 '17 at 18:43
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    I can remember a time when you actually had to talk about someone's mother or call them a bad name to really offend them. People sure seem to have awfully thin skin these days. Maybe the biggest lesson you can take away is that when you grow up and are an adult, not everything is just special to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Get over yourself a little and stop acting like this was some sort of huge insult. – Delta_G Nov 14 '17 at 3:11
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    @EdmundReed I do not know where the university is located, but in many countries students do not effectively pay for tuition (university education is government-sponsored and much, much cheaper than in the USA, students could even get support from the government), so in this case your argument is void. – Thorsten S. Nov 14 '17 at 9:45
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I concur that you're wound too tightly.

But if you cannot rest or sleep without responding, then use self-deprecating humor, e.g. "I was so confused [about the matter] that I cannot remember it today! :-)"

A note like this essentially forgives the lecturer for being late, and communicates that you hold no grudge. It also communicates that you are not a powder-keg ready to explode at the slightest offense... any other kind of response would do the opposite.

The smiley face is important to communicate that you are not taking this seriously. (Even though you are.) Several years ago the NY Times recommeded using emoticons in email to communicate tone, because that can be otherwise hard to do in a short note.

Bottom line: if you transform the incident to something mildly humorous, the lecturer will think of you in a positive light. You don't have to suck up, but in life one has to pick one's battles. When battle is not joined, it's best to leave the other person in a good frame of mind.

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It sounds like maybe you are reading into this too much. If you send a polite email back saying something kind and let him/her know that you enjoy his/her course, I think things will go much better between you and them.

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I wouldn't respond back, because that sounds like a PS, or a tag. So, like, instead of saying "kind regards", he said that as he left the conversation. The guy or girl is probably busy and wrote that on a half a thought. I wouldn't be a dick about it. Yes, I think there's a chance that you're the dick here by trying to rub it in and not just going for the fact that he messed up when he confused everybody by the classroom change, but that he also messed up his communique with yourself.

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A common problem with emails (or written form in general) for such small topics is that they can be over-interpretated. Another email would make things even more complicated.

Tip: at the end of next course, go talk to him/her briefly and say "Sorry for bothering with my last email about ..., it's just that ...", this is in fact not a real "sorry" to apologize, but just a way to introduce the topic. Then he/she'll probably answer in a nice way, and both you and he/she will be happy at the end.

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I would not bother with arguing with lecturer since it can probably hurt you more than you can him. And if he is so unprofessional to send you mail like that chances of him apologizing are slim. What I would do is when this professor is mentioned in peer group tell everybody how "great" he is so my friends know who they should avoid(it is a weak signal but if this lecturer is as nice to everybody as he is to you it will accumulate into enough useful information for your friends).

That being said beware of a sampling error, you should not claim this lecturer is the worst person ever, you can only testify for this brief interaction.

protected by Cape Code Nov 14 '17 at 9:38

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