Monday, November 03, 2008

The Ultimate E-mail Faux Pas

In this profile of Bravo chief Laura Zalaznick (which is very good but could have been half the length), we learn that a producer once accidentally sent her an e-mail meant for someone else, in which he rants about her being controlling and overcritical, and calls her a dirty word that rhymes with "runt." This was how she reacted:
She neither laughed it off nor fired anyone. Instead, a few weeks later, she wrote an essay about the experience and published it on a literary Web site called Open Letters. The essay is a thoughtful, brutally honest meditation on the expectations of a woman in power. “I’m probably regarded as being tough, fairly hardhearted, outspoken,” she wrote. “I am occasionally criticized for digging in and being less accommodating to other people’s ideas and criticisms than I ‘should be.’ But this is a weird sort of (double) standard to be held to, especially in a ‘creative’ job where passions are usually what get ideas heard.”
I like that. She could have flown off the handle or played the aggrieved victim, but instead she turned an ugly incident into the opportunity for thoughtful reflection. It probably provided some catharsis for her and gave her a forum to work through her feelings rationally. At the same time, she shamed the letter-writer without destroying their relationship. (In fact, the two are now friends.) No wonder she's had such an incredible career.

P.S. Here is the full letter, including the original email. She kept the offenders' names private, which is an extra nice touch, since certainly those close enough to the situation to matter will know who they are anyway.

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