Ok! Admit it! Long e-mails are the worst!!!
Unless you absolutely have to send one, you really shouldn’t. If the need is real, pick up the phone or try and have an in-person conversation.
Even when we tell people, friends, and employees to keep it condensed, we’re still forced to trudge through their long e-mails that usually end up being a waste of time.
Or worse yet, we risk missing valuable information by reading past all the dense blocks of text. Neither strategy is effective. Nor is being rude to colleagues, friends or potential business partners.
A pretty famous CEO put an email together that stated;
“Please don’t write me a novel, I won’t read it.”
Instead write in the subject line what it is, that this is about and tell me upfront if a decision is needed. Or, do you need me to look at something? Or, is this a “When you have time take a look at this” email? Just tell me up front so I can prioritize effectively.
Simple as that, if everyone included this line at the end of their e-mails “Please don’t write me a novel. I won’t read it”- in time, the novels will stop coming in. Yes, it’s blunt, but you know me. Some may feel too blunt, but those people are wrong.
Part of being a good employee is ensuring you’re productive and efficient. Another part of being a great employee is building positive relationships with your co-workers, which means they probably will send you a long email from time to time.
The beauty of the subject line advice is that you’re not dismissing the content of a long email you may be receiving, instead it is telling you that due to the reality that time is fixed and work is ever-increasing, you may not get to read their email and hence they may not get a response. This is a more proactive approach as the recipient could then easily send a more concise e-mail or request a conversation.
Being direct and honest is in! So, I guess I’ve always been in!(lol) Directness and honesty are good not only because it creates deeper workplace relationships but because it just makes life easier and more efficient.
If “being more” productive is on your New Years’ resolution list, consider refreshing those email novels you’re sending, especially if you are a leader in your organization.
Research suggests that when leaders model behavior, the rest follow suit.