A heartfelt cry after a 3000-character-email, though the request was really simple and the author could easily do with 100 characters.
Do you have emails in your Inbox that are stuck there for weeks? Or the ones you procrastinate to reply until the very last or give up on them altogether (if you can, of course)?
Your email isn’t getting read because it is too long
It’s a safe bet that you have. And my best guess is that these emails are long and vague. Or you can’t figure out what they are about and what on earth the authors want from you. Or they are too time-consuming (read — difficult) to reply. “One of the top reasons your email isn’t getting read is because it is too long,” says management expert Craig Jarrow.
When communicating verbally in English, most people have the smarts to briefly formulate their thoughts (and if not, at least work on it or see the need). Either the interlocutor “helps” not to waffle a lot, interrupting the “stream of consciousness”, or it’s trite to say, but the English level is not high enough for diffused and sophisticated conversations. Yet when it comes to emails, may people let themselves go.
And if the worst comes to the worst (especially when English is at a high level), these people try to square the circle. Why else have they studied it so hard for many years (to talk large now — too cool for school:))? Not to keep it short and simple, for sure?! How сome to write to the point? What about synonyms? What about rhetorical moves (rather language and mind twists)? What about niceties? No, they will spill all their knowledge (or googled info) in one single email, for one single reader to digest it and “enjoy”. Oh, also they tend to repeat the info several times, maybe this way the message will finally sink in (to the addressee).
1. But it is a time waste of blackest dye. Double at that. You squander the time to write this bullsh*t, the other party — to read it. And no one, including you, wants to spend their precious time wandering in the thickets of sophisticated figures of speech, pretentious mental constructions, or banal, tedious formalities. So don’t waste time and space on the screen for useless corny phrases.
And finally, try to put yourself in your long-email-reader’s shoes. Do you have time to read all that, analyse and respond?
That is to say, a long email from the outset is much less likely to be:
b) read carefully.
Busy people write short emails!
2. And on top of this, think who usually writes the shortest emails? Busy people. So, to pass for one, you do not need to constantly say that you are busy and do not have enough time. Show what you’re worth — answer the bell! The saying “actions speak louder than words” appears especially relevant today. And in emails as well.
3. It is proved that psychologically long emails also increase the readers’ anxiety: did I catch everything correctly? Did I consider all the details? Did I miss something important? But an anxious person is an ineffective and unattentive person. Plus, nobody likes to feel that way. So can you be treated well if your emails only deepen the feeling of anxiety?
4. Remember that many people use their smartphones to check emails, and they may find long scrolling irritating (unless of course, they read till the end and the finger isn’t getting tired earlier).
Maybe, talk better?
If your e-mail is getting too long, then maybe it is better to talk to a person?
The way I see it, the main reasons for long emails are:
- Tall talks and ego trips. I’ve already written about that. Frustrating, but sh*t happens.
- You are clueless about what you want to say. This is completely fubar and the hardest case to deal with. Because clear writing = clear thinking, and one won’t change the latter so fast.
- You are a spammer. Especially in large corporations, many emailers use long texts to create the illusion of never-ending busyness and the world is their oyster. Or because “everybody does it,” employees make the mistake of writing long updates to keep others in the loop.
- FYI. Instead of briefly explaining or summarising what the addressee needs to know, forward the sheets (sh*t) of “history” by sending even the stuff the reader doesn’t need to know. There is no greater disrespect, but who cares?
- This should be not an email. Do not compose emails when it is better to meet or call. Sometimes it is much faster and more productive to use another medium.
- It is worth writing several emails. The golden rule is one topic — one email. Go easy on it, well, it’s apples and oranges, because someone will need to clear up this mess. And in the end, you will also suffer if they pick up the wrong pieces, or ignore it altogether.
- You do not edit/proofread your emails. This is what I call the “stream of consciousness” (with apologies to James Joyce) when you spill out at your addressee your thought as they appeared in your head. It was to be hoped that the majority think structurally, but usually, there is chaos in the heads. So, the best thing you can do is become the most excepting and heavy editor and critic for yourself.
- You’ve got a FEAR to:
а) appear unprofessional
б) sound formal/impolite
в) be misunderstood
if you keep it short.
The latter is probably the most common reason but let me tell you about some other time.
And do you manage to control the length of your emails?
Read this article in Ukrainian on UPPR.com.ua