I was listening to one of the Chase Jarvis Live podcasts last week and during the show the guest was discussing how we should all send very short emails. One sentence emails with no more than 5 words are what the guest strives for. He went on to add that you should intentionally misspell words, write in all lower case letters and not punctuate correctly. The name of the guest escapes me but it wasn’t the messenger that was important as much as it was the message. His message was that this type of email will convey to the recipient that you are a very busy person and that you don’t have time for back and forth email conversations, or frivolous chatter.
Emails like the one described above don’t make me think that the person is really busy. They make me think that this person is either rude, stupid, doesn’t give a shit, or a combination of the three. If I receive an email that reads like the person on the other end was having a stroke while they typed it, I’m going to wonder whether English is not their first language, or, if I need to contact their next of kin.
I agree with the guest on the podcast that emails, for the most part, should be kept short and concise. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if more of us aimed to write emails, text messages or social media updates the way Hemingway would if he were alive today. But I also feel that any correspondence should be given a once-over for any glaring mistakes prior to sending.
SIDE NOTE: If you want to avoid the back and forth conversations in email, don’t leave your thoughts open-ended. To cut down on the back and forth emails I typically give people an If-Then option. I’ll send an email saying that I would like to meet with you at one of the following times. I list out two or three days and specific times that I’m available. I follow that up with if none of these times work for you, then please suggest a day and time when you are free and we’ll find something that works for both of us. This is much more concise then sending one email that asks if the person can meet on Tuesday at 11:30 am. They reply back no. Then you send a second email suggesting a different time. They write back and say no, with no suggested time. You see where I’m going with this. Okay, back to business.
I’m not saying you have to transcribe flawless prose, but don’t appear impatient, uneducated or lazy in your communication. In an age of Damn You, Auto Correct a lot of these mess ups could have been avoided if the sender would’ve exercised 30 seconds of patience to read what they wrote before sending. Taking a few seconds will possibly save you hours. So, take a minute and read it over. Does what you wrote make sense to you? Will it make sense to the person you’re sending it to? I realize we’re all busy, but we can all take a minute to proofread and act like we give a shit.