The Value Of Short Emails (And Other Concise Communication)

time short concise communication clockTwo days ago I was sitting on the couch, reading through emails and articles, trying to decide if I wanted to buy a new book, and pondering life.

All of a sudden, I was hit with a revelation (only to myself) and I looked up and exclaimed to my wife, “I just had an epiphany!”

Knowing me well enough to not expect something profound from a still-seated-me, exclaiming such words without a blog post, video, and hundreds of pages of research to prove it, she looked at me with questioning doubt as to what she was about to hear.

“What’s that?” she said.

“Well, it just occurred to me that perhaps I’m a fast reader and “comprehender” (I love, knocking out articles with this method while I work on other tasks, and listening to audiobooks at twice the speed). Plus I’ve always been a stupid-fast typer. So maybe long emails are way less of a big deal to me than most people!”


Your Emails Are Too Long

Made popular by the tech and software industries (*I wonder when we’re going to say they’re the same?), there’s a popular notion that all emails must be short.

In fact, almost all thoughts must be short!

As in, practically the same as text messaging “short”!

As in, you don’t understand it well enough if you can’t say it in a tweet “short”.

As in, if you don’t do this you’re an out of touch, disrespectful, idiot “short”.

If you stop and think about it rationally, not under the influence of an “I’m super important” complex, it makes very little sense. I already have texting for a reason, right? However, I recently wrote a post on lengthy emails and why they’re okay, why they actually save time, why the problem is yours and not the writer’s, and why they show you care about someone other than yourself… so I’m not going to defend that here.

I’m actually stating the opposite here!

Because sometimes there is a real and reasonable need for concise communication whether it’s emails, phone calls, blog posts, and even text messaging – especially group texting.

Especially group texts!

Gosh, I hate group texts.

Plus, I’ve received some whopper long emails that should have been a phone call, edited, or just super lacking in what I call “social awareness”.

Also, let’s face it, people don’t manage their inbox worth crap.

In fact, they completely suck at it!

While, yes that is their personal problem, and not at all yours or mine who know how to unsubscribe from stuff, time-box our emailing, and process things only once, people always want to make their problems someone else’s; so we shouldn’t be surprised.

We have to roll with it.

Before I sound too bitter and condescending though, there are other good reasons for the short emails and concise communication.

In an effort to be mercifully concise here, I’ll bullet them out with minimal explanation:

12 Good Reasons For and Benefits Of Concise Communication Whether Writing Or Speaking

  1. You’ve thought through exactly what you need to say and why. You do this instead of asking the person you’re emailing to do that for you while you lazily ramble.
  2. You’ve decided on the most important questions, even though it’s likely not all you might want to ask. Sometimes we email or call people we’d love to chat with for days, but it’s just not real, or polite, to think this is possible.
  3. Understanding the above shows: You understand they’re busy, even if they shouldn’t be so much so, and you’ll respect them and help them with that.
  4. You recognize people don’t need as much background info as we often think they do. They are intelligent and/or can use Google too.
  5. It shows you’re making yourself busy with meaningful work as well – so it asks respect in return.
  6. You’ve edited for meandering thoughts and unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, modifiers, caveats, etc. We (I think, a little bit, maybe, but possibly not, just, sorta, unknowingly, likely probably, unintentionally I’m sure, drastically hugely gigantic, completely utterly downright mega) do this too much. Direct writing is always more pleasant to read if it’s not a creative writing piece. Samesies for direct speaking!
  7. You utilized the subject line well! Seriously! Do this! (Or your slides and artwork if speaking.)
  8. You make it easier for people to read on handheld devices. Most people check their emails on these now. (Or take notes on them if you’re speaking.)
  9. You’ll avoid the strange cultural proclivity false flattery and niceties which can (and should) make you seem phony and not trustworthy.
  10. People think they are WAY busier than they actually are and find their value in it, you know better, but you still have to roll with their silliness.
  11. They’re more likely to remember what you said over time. We all have a max capacity for short term memory, and we are ALL inundated with too much info. Much of this is actually not our faults, so give them a chance to remember what you’re saying by weeding out the extra!
  12. They’re more likely to take action, because they actually read it or remember it, and THAT is what you want most!

There you have it!

Tighten up your communication and keep your friends and respect!

You and I can laugh about it later… in our long emails to each other.

Seriously… anytime! I probably won’t mind, and I guarantee you I’ll read it.

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The Majesty’s Men

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I serve as the Director and Editor-In-Chief of The Majesty’s Men, a multi-faceted ministry and brand I founded in 2013 focused on facilitating friendship and mentoring between Christian. TMM is made up of an online community and blog, a network of exemplary men and their sites, a brand and shop, resources, and, most importantly, a growing network of localized face-to-face communities.

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