Hi. Did you add me to your list?

Following networking events, conferences, and meetups, there are usually well-intentioned followups that take place electronically as a result of business card exchanges.

Sometimes, however, people will add you to their mailing list without your consent. In addition to being slimy and ensuring that your spam newsletter does not get read, it dehumanizes the previous interaction.

If I get a newsletter from someone whose mailing list I didn’t sign up for, I opt for one of the following approaches, depending on how I feel:

  1. Reporting the email as spam
  2. Unsubscribing from the newsletter, indicating in the process (if it allows for feedback) that I didn’t sign up for it in the first place
  3. Replying to the sender and asking if they added me to their list without my consent

The last one might be a little surprising, but I think it’s a teachable moment, and a little discomfort never hurt anyone (much). I once inquired of a spammer sender (who fit the profile of someone who I might have crossed paths with) if he and I had met. His reply? “No, but I would like to.”


Sometimes people will be offended if you request removal from their list, and I think that’s fine. Spam is a problem, and I have no problem aggressively guarding my inbox against unsolicited mail from dishonest marketers. It’s tactics like those that give people a general distaste of marketing in the first place.

And if someone I don’t know adds me to a mailing list I didn’t sign up for and provides no mechanism for unsubscribing (which is illegal, of course), I just report the message as spam, occasionally letting the sender know this by replying to the message.



I have a small mailing list for this blog, and I currently publish content every day. If someone wants to subscribe, it’s not very difficult. Could I push my list more aggressively, litter my site with calls to action, and proactively add friends to the list manually (with their consent)? Of course.

But that doesn’t match the tone I’m going for here. I’m trying to build a sustainable home for valuable ideas as they’re published. I’d like for the people coming along for the ride to be delighted to join, and I’d like to work for each and every signup.

So if you’re reading this post via email because you found my site or heard about me and opted into my daily musings, I’d like to thank you. You’re why I’m doing this.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.

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