Tiny curt emails

This is going to be a short one. When I first started my corporate career, I’d take extreme pains to ensure that my emails were their best possible version before I hit send. I would add the courteous ‘I hope this email finds you well’, ‘hope you had a good weekend’ and ‘happy Monday’ at the start and politely end with a ‘hope to hear from you soon’, ‘thank you’ and 101 other salutations. I’d read, re-read, add context to ensure everything was clear and scan each line to ensure nothing could be interpreted as impolite. The simplest email took me at least five minutes to from start to finish. Post all that effort, when I received a short, crisp, single line or even worse, a single-word response to my carefully curated emails, I thought them rude, offensive and upsetting.

And as the years passed by, I found my emails getting shorter, and shorter…and shorter.

Over the years, my emails have transformed from being thoughtfully crafted pieces of art to consisting of the bare minimum words required. Of course, there’s a tiny bit of guilt associated every time I hit send on an email that could have consisted of a few more words and a little more effort. Then I stumbled across this TED talk where the speaker, Guy Katz, clearly states that research has shown that the average business email is not really read but skimmed through and sometimes completely deleted. In what he calls the tweet principle, he says that if the email is longer than a tweet, give the person a call. I’m not if that’s the right metric but another talk I heard back in 2021 (which I cannot find the link to) said, if an email takes a minute, give it no more than a minute.

There exists an argument that adding in the fluff words takes no more than 30 seconds and makes for a better read. If you are sending an email out, might as well make it good especially as these are lasting permanent records. In the initial years of your career, a 100%. Pour over the emails until they naturally flow well. And then times will change. There will be days when you have over 100 emails flowing in each demanding a quick response. When you are pressed for time, every second counts.

When Seth Godin responded to my well thought out email with a single line, I was not offended. I was overjoyed. Imagine if he took the 30 extra seconds on each email that landed in his inbox. I’d never have received a response.

Thus, my emails will be short, sometimes curt and I pray, never offensive.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s