Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The socially inept interviewer, or, Things I wish we had covered in the methods course

Dear Miss Manners,

Semi-hypothetical situation: You're writing an e-mail to people you want to interview. You want to ask them about some experiences they had, say, thirty or forty years ago. At the time, they were a couple and you have no information that indicates that they are no longer together. So you write to them both: "Mr. and Mrs. X" (or something like that, depending on circumstances).

You get a response from one of them, using the first person singular throughout. S/he is willing to do the interview. But you really want to interview the other member of that couple, too. How do you ask the person who responded to you about the other person?

(Stop looking at me like that! I told you I was socially inept from the beginning!)


susansinclair said...

I *love* that none of us wanted to touch that. Which points to the fact that while you may desire greater social eptitude, nobody else can think of a good way to handle that situation, either.

Or maybe we're all equally inept. But I like the former.

Jonathan Benda said...

Thanks for at least writing that comment, Susan! I was beginning to think that no one responded because they considered my question unbelievably stupid... (Actually, I did get one response via e-mail from my old friend ERG. I tried something similar to what he recommended, but haven't heard back from the person yet! Uh oh...)