Science Connection Member Polylogue, part 2
Contacts among members
Mode of contact: letter, phone, or e-mail
Timing of phone calls
Importance of respecting stated preferences
Substance of initial contacts
Replies vs. non-replies to contacts
Whether men like women to contact them
Synopsis of member views:
1. While some people are comfortable making and receiving phone calls as an initial contact with another member, it seems a greater number prefer initial contact by e-mail or mail.
2. There are limitations to all three modes of contact - mail, e-mail, phone, and especially the last two - as compared with meeting in person. For example, misunderstandings are more likely.
3. Phone calls should be made at a reasonable hour (e.g. perhaps 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) in the time zone of the person receiving the call.
4. Ignore members' expressed criteria (e.g. age range preference) at your peril.
5. Most members prefer a negative reply to a contact they have made than no reply at all. A minority, however, either prefer a non-reply or take non-replies as an implied negative response and are not bothered by them.
6. All male members who voiced an opinion in response to a female member who wondered if men are receptive to being contacted by women answered an emphatic "yes!".
- Writing letters to strangers of the opposite sex with only their Bio-Profile for a guide is not that easy, but can be very instructive. It forces one to consider what is important to oneself and what common ground you have with the person you're writing to. I think writing first is the way to go, because you can establish a framework for talking on the phone when and if that happens. I don't want to get too serious here, but I think it's easier to be misunderstood on the phone. Talking spontaneously leaves a lot of room to stick one's foot in one's mouth! It's not a big deal to say something dumb once you get by the first impression, but if this is the first impression then the relationship will be off on the wrong foot. And no, I don't have a foot fetish :-).
- If there was some way you could ensure the person making the contact has sent their Bio Profile ahead of a phone call or included it w/ the letter of contact to the party who interests them ... I have been caught "by surprise" too many times. They know all you've cared to reveal about yourself, you know nothing more than their spoken words or the few written words in a note of query.
- I ... like to call someone instead of writing. Of course, I start by asking whether the call is convenient. The few words, the voice, the reaction (both ways) tend to indicate something about her personality. ... E-mail is also convenient, and a good means of contact, unless misused by sending an embarrassing life story to a stranger and asking for a response. Instead it should be conversational. It should give the sender's member number and, I suggest, include an enquiry as to whether and how the sender can supply his/her profile to the recipient.
- Some of us would rather not be contacted by e-mail as it is so impersonal. I get a good sense of a man by looking at his handwriting.
- I was bothered by the comment from the member who said "cold, unsolicited e-mail is likely to go unresponded to be me - also doesn't feel as responsible as contact by mail". I don't know if that came from a male or a female, but it doesn't matter. The point is that if this member doesn't want to receive initial contacts by e-mail, why the (#@$ did he/she LIST an e-mail address in his/her profile? It strikes me as being the height of irresponsibility to induce someone to send you communication which is "likely to go unresponded to". Personally, I much prefer snail mail myself, but any mail is better than no mail.
- I have been a letter writing member for some time now, and got only one nice rejection letter, no other letters at all. After recently gaining access to e-mail, I have had a 60%+ reply ratio. I think that it would be fair to include this information in the introductory newsletters.
Timing of phone calls
- I have recently received initial calls from members at some very strange hours of the day.
At least strange by my standards. One fellow called at 7 a.m. on a weekday, another called after 11
p.m. At 7 a.m., I'm either sleeping or running around getting ready for work. No time for a
getting-to-know-you chat. 11 p.m. was a definite wake-up call. Granted, once you know a person and
their schedule, you can call when it's convenient. But aren't there some sort of unwritten rules?
Personally, I just wrote these people off as rude and inconsiderate.
Also, I've had men call me long distance during the day when I'm at work and leave a message to call them back. I'm aware that calling them back and talking for any length of time would mean I would get stuck with the phone bill! And, I am crazy enough to wonder if this is part of their plan.
What do other members think?
Coordinator's remark: I would suggest - members are welcome to disagree - that at least until one is acquainted, phone calls should be made between 9 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., perhaps avoiding the dinner hour (6:00-7:30?). One needs to check whether one is calling a different time zone and take that into account. And it is well to ask whether the time is convenient at the outset of a conversation.
Importance of respecting stated preferences
- ... my mini-profile said very clearly that I was looking for someone "of similar age and interests", but I still received a lot of letters from men 15 or 20 years older who seemed to have absolutely nothing in common with me! I obviously didn't waste my time in replying. So I guess that, before complaining about not getting a response to their letters, members should make sure they meet the minimum qualifications stated in the profile of the member they are contacting.
Substance of initial contacts
- Recently, most of the men who have contacted me have sent form letters. The most recent contact sent a profile with a note on the bottom: "If you're interested, send a picture," and signed his first initial. I understand that people are busy, but an idea of why the person chose to contact me would be helpful. These impersonal contacts do not interest me!
- Ultra casual e-mail approaches are ill-advised I had my e-mail listed in
Thus I received a slew of responses right off. But I was amazed at how many did not take
time/effort to get my
max-file to see if I truly was "interesting." Most of the guys didn't even ID themselves; I had to do a
checking to figure out who they were (would like at least SciCon# or city of residence). Most barely
beyond 'I think you're interesting, write back if you think there's a possibility.' Now how can I tell if
interesting when they tell me nothing about themselves, what makes them tick, what feeds their
soul? Plus the
mini-files have very little to go on (and that's only if they are well-written in the first place). Scientist
and need lots of details--we need the men to woo our minds!!! I also sense some of these guys are
their hopes in this and are revolving their lives around this Search. Yes, it would be nice if it works
out, but in the
meantime, we should get on with our lives, independent from being part of a 'relationship.' There are
lots of guys
my age in SciCon, but all but one response were from men almost 15 yrs older. I admit I have more
with these guys, but I really would like someone closer in age so if things did "work out" we would
have more years together before having to deal with the trials of old age (which I'm already getting
to do with
caretaking for my parents -- so been there, done that). I guess the bottom line is, we shouldn't
marry someone we
can live with, but someone whom we cannot live without. That's why I'm still single (yet hopeful).
Good advice re e-mailing fellow members
- A member who deleted a brief message from an unfamiliar name later wondered if it might have been from a Science Connection member. She suggests that we: "remind members ... to please identify themselves as Science Connection members and provide their member numbers."
- Use a descriptive email subject line, such as "From SciConnect.com #xxxxxx." Lots of junk email comes with "Hi," "Hello," etc. as a subject line. People often delete such messages unread. I almost deleted a "Hello" message from a very nice SciConnect person today. If you wrote somebody with a poor subject line and got no response, try them again.
- Courtesy and honesty I would also like to comment on the many comments
in this last newsletter. Plain common courtesy would solve a number of complaints. Answer all
responses even if it
is to say not interested for whatever reason. I would rather know than wonder. It also eliminates
Honesty is always best. Trite but true. Since I want someone of my approximate experience and history, age is the only "physical" criterion I have for selection. And I do put what I consider a reasonable +/- interval around my own age. I found one man in my geographic location. This man after phone contact which he requested was in reality ten years over my maximum but his bio listed age was 5 years under. He has gained nothing except to annoy me. Since I believe in letting a contact know that I will not continue I am now faced with this distasteful task because I will also tell him why. It also gives rise to the question "What else have you lied about in your profile?".
In this society I can understand older people being defensive about age. I fit the old category myself. However, I was never athletic, and though I keep up with younger friends I do not have quite the speed and strength I had twenty years ago. But I am up front about what I can and do do. In the final analysis it seems to me that this is most likely to lead to a satisfactory friendship or more.
What constitutes a good first letter?
- I guess a good letter of self-introduction is: one stressing not the education (already in
maxi-profile), but what made the writer decide to contact that particular member (and not another!).
This quickly brings the two together and sparks the attention of the reader. As for what exactly to
stress, it is perhaps dependent on who is writing to whom.
Here honesty comes in place: don't overstate what will never be proved by reality: you may gain the reader's interest in meeting you, but the interest will not last long if the honesty was overlooked.
Just be yourself in writing - the reader may even give you credit for being so and may overlook "some defects". But nobody - to my knowledge - can overlook dishonesty for the purpose of "looking better than we really are".
- Re When I contact someone first, my letters of introduction tend to lead to lasting postal friendships. I generally keep my first letters down to one page, although I sometimes get on a roll and write two. I don't include my bio profile, although I mention a lot of its content in the letter, highlighting common interests I may have with my potential new friend, as well as interesting differences. I never write form letters, although I tend to write similar things from one letter to the next. As much as possible, I try to let my personality show through my writing. I enjoy writing, and I find that a well-written narrative is much more enjoyable than a list of statistics, no matter how detailed.
- Here are some brief comments on how maybe to get quality responses from your
introduction letters. Admittedly some aren't original ideas. I am a man in my 30's, so perhaps if you
are significantly younger or older you may not find these comments to be as applicable.
- Stick to people with whom you have something in common! When I get a letter from someone who does not have career, hobby, age, geography, or values in common with what I stated in my profile then I am extremely likely not to reply. It seems to scream out "I really don't care who you are and what you said." In past newsletters people have spoken about sending out "dozens" of letters with no reply. I think that's far too many. In a given year and a geographical area, writing more than a dozen is probably too many. Of course you may have to order many more profiles than this to find people who seem right for you.
- Say what you mean! In other words, if you want to get together briefly for dinner (or whatever), be sure to say so. Preface with a few lines about what you liked about them, and how it relates to you. Don't make stuff up and be manipulative, be honest and write what you truly liked (i.e. career? a particular hobby?). Be brief and always, always write on nice stationery or cards. I wouldn't get too much into life stories and desires for babies in such a card. Men (I?) will find the second especially intimidating, even if they share that as an ultimate goal. There'll be time to mention that later.
- Enthusiasm goes a long way....simply stating "I'd love to hear from you" could get a lot more people to write back.
- Don't carry unrealistic expectations of people who aren't interested writing back to you. Frankly, I think its a little immature to expect this. At least from a younger guy's perspective, it's really more polite to stay silent than to write a letter which is a blatant rejection. I know that I do not want to come home from work just to get a letter saying "Thanks .....but I don't like you!" By the way, my response rate has been about 75/25 (in favor) with about half of that 75% leading to at least one date. No LTRs... yet... .
Replies vs. non-replies to contacts
- In support of members replying to contacts from other members
- I feel that answering someone's letter is plain good manners. At a minimum, it
acknowledges the other person's effort, and allows the sender to distinguish between "he/she is not
interested" and "he/she never got the letter". If we had perfect, always-prompt postal service,
perhaps it would not be so necessary. Telling the other party you are not interested is okay. Failing to
say anything is not.
I feel that the comment someone gave that "one is not obligated to answer a letter from a stranger" is inane. An introductory letter from another member is not quite "out of the blue". When one of us members places an ad, we are inviting precisely that sort of "letter from a stranger". When another member takes the trouble to respond to that invitation, failure to even acknowledge the message seems incredibly rude to me. So rude, on my scale of values, that a response that was literally worded "Buzz off, I don't want to correspond with you" would be less rude.
- I find it strange that some members don't respond to letters even though they decide the writer is not a "possible". Even when we may not wish to know the writer, we both are pursuing a common search, friendship or love. Surely that deserves an acknowledgement. I wonder about members who describe themselves so fulsomely in their profiles and yet do not acknowledge their mail. It rather takes the gloss off all those positive adjectives they've applied to themselves.
- I am pleased with the members I have contacted for the most part, but I am disappointed in the lack of response by those I have taken the time to write to. If they would at least reply that they got the letter and are not interested that would be okay, but I don't appreciate not hearing back when I've gone to the trouble of contacting them.
- I make it a point to reply to all the letters that I receive and try not to form a definitive opinion on someone based solely on the first letter and information in the bio profile. Some of the bio profiles that I have seen are so sparse that there is probably more information in the member's driver license. If someone has taken the time and trouble to write a letter to me, I think that they at least deserve the simple courtesy of a reply. I know how long it takes to write an introductory letter to a stranger without making it seem like a direct marketeer's mass mailing.
- How to word a non-encouraging reply... I'd like to suggest a quick and
that people may use when they are not interested in someone and tend to agonize over a reply and
ultimately fail to
reply, as this appears to be a major issue.
"Dear (fill-in-the-blank), I am flattered that you have shown interest in me and I appreciate your letter/e-mail, however I do not think we are a match. Best of luck in your continuing search. Sincerely, (fill-in-the-blank)."
That would sooth my fragile male ego! Now is that really so hard?
- With regard to the on and off comments about whether to reply or not to reply to an overture
member, may I suggest a more basic way to think about it?
There seem to be the two camps with no in-between; some think it is a waste of time to reply to someone that they have no interest in getting to know, even as a potential friend and some who would at least prefer the "received-your-application-and-are- currently-reviewing-it-for-open-positions/ no-openings-at-this-time" response on a post card as a courtesy.
Personally I belong to the latter camp, but when I don't receive any reply of any kind I simply think of it this way: Instead of feeling put off I think to myself, "Well, if this person does not feel the need to respond (even though you likely requested their bio-profile which takes one away from the profiles you have left) as a civic courtesy, then this person probably has other basic qualities that would not be in congruence with mine." So, I simply forget that member and move on. Life is too short for uncommunicative people and bad wine.
- Having gone through my first round of bios, I can add my voice to those who wish for a reply, even a negative one. I spend some time in looking over a profile and trying to match my interests to ones I am interested in and also to those I think I might interest. After spending considerable time and effort in crafting an interesting letter it's very frustrating to receive no reply. I feel like I am transmitting to some great sucking black hole from which nothing will ever emerge. However, I try to keep a positive outlook and continue.
- I am sure that all of us realize that a non-response is a form of negative reply. That
comment is an
explanation, not an excuse. When one lists oneself in Science Connection, the listing itself implies an
contact. No response is equivalent to an invitation and then slamming the door in the face of the
invitee when he
shows up. It's just plain rude.
One wonders how a person intends to carry on a LTC when that person can't commit to a two minute reply to a contact. I sincerely doubt any of us are in the position of a widower neighbor of mine who received over 150 replies to a lonely hearts ad in the local big metropolitan daily. I know Science Connection members are fairly selective in whom they contact and are not likely to be inundated by indiscriminant contacts. Therefore they should have the time to extend the courtesy. Even the following short replies satisfy and may even be a guide to further more successful contacts:
- "I don't feel there are enough common interests."
- "You are outside my limits for age/height/weight/religion/ethnicity."
- "I am too busy at this point to encourage more contacts."
- "I have recently become seriously involved."
In defence of members not necessarily replying
- to the endless discussion about answering ... if you don't hear back from someone, you can interpret this as a "not interested". Is it really necessary to actively reject the person in writing?
- ... the people who use Science Connection are busy, usually active people who hopefully are mature enough to realize that all responses do not have to be replied to. You do not even know the person. I would not take offense to anyone not answering my letter. Not everyone will be compatible - that is life! Use the energy for positive [contacts] - move on and find them!
- For what it's worth, I'm one of the offenders who doesn't always write back to introductory letters. If there isn't something in the letter that sparks my interest, I find it hard to set aside time to think of an appropriate reply. In some ways, Science Connection is like a big party. Some people you meet and you really click with. You have great conversations and maybe become friends. Other people make you want to go back to the veggies & dip! My only defense is that if a person gives me a little more information than a recitation of his bio-profile, I'll be more intrigued and more likely to write back.
- I would like to note that sometimes people (such as myself) don't answer letters because of life circumstances - i.e. moving, job change which temporarily put all piles of paper in inaccessible places and postpone the 'to do" list indefinitely but not forever.
Whether men like women to contact them
- I must admit that I was absolutely aghast to read in the member comment section of the November newsletter that a presumably female member could possibly think that male members would not like to be contacted first by female members, if one were to read between the lines of the quoted question! Is she still living in the Victorian/Edwardian era? I would certainly welcome more letters from female members because I do not think that I get enough. But I guess that it should be emphasized once again that it is a two-way process. If all the members are to sit on their behinds passively waiting for someone to write to them first, then nothing will get started.
- ... the answer is an unequivocal YES! Being a little shy, I find it difficult to initiate a conversation with women at times. I really like it when women contact me first rather than waiting to see if I will make the first move.
- ... over the twenty years since my divorce, all the positive contacts I've had (not just from S.C.) have been initiated by women!
- Well, I am really flattered and happy when a woman writes to introduce herself and to say that she finds me interesting and attractive. I am so used to making all the initiatives and taking all the risks that when I joined SC I did not even consider that women might be writing me first. Probably most of the SC members, although appreciating differences between the sexes, don't believe in old fashioned gender roles anyway. Of course, I can't speak for everyone, but since I'm a research scientist, my personality and responses would probably be typical for many male members.
Science Connection Copyright ©