Email Management Time!

Jul 31, 2013

I read the following article by Drake Baer today, and know that the timing couldn’t be better. I haven’t returned from my vacation just yet, but see the email piling up, and would rather not dread diving into it. This article gives me hope, along with the fact that as a result of my recent training, I’ve been practicing on a daily basis making clear, specific requests to my partner and children. It’s surprisingly harder than it sounds!

Combining “action” (your request) and “motivation” (why it’s important to you) is actually half of the non-violent communication (NVC) model. If you’d like to know more about expressing yourself in a way that connects with others and increases the chances that your requests are met . . . contact me!

Why Every Email Should Be 5 Sentences Long

“Proper email is a balance between politeness and succinctness,” entrepreneur-investor-author Guy Kawasaki tells “Less than five sentences is often abrupt and rude, more than five sentences wastes time.”

In this way, the email is like poem. A sonnet maybe, with the way its limitations have a funny way of granting freedom. Or maybe an epic poem, given the fact that we all write a novel’s worth of email every year. But would a missive by any other length read just as sweet?

Not likely, says Kawasaki:

“Long emails are either unread or, if they are read, they are unanswered … Right now I have 600 read but unanswered emails in my inbox.”

Ack. That’s a whole inbox orphanage–clearly Kawasaki is of the who-cares-about-inbox-zero school of messaging.

So how do we stave off our outbox abandonment issues?

By making our emails really, really easy to reply to. By making them, like a fine product, massively simple.

The key is understanding if we’re trying to get our recipient to take some sort of action from the prompt that we give them. If so, that action–and its motivation–needs to be as clear as possible, delivered as cleanly as possible.

Since people are both busy and lazy, they’re “more likely to respond to information requests–whether important or trivial–if they’re easy to address,” as Quartz recently reported. And even if a message is important, if it’s too complex, it won’t get a response.

What we need to do, then, is be like Steve Jobs, David Karp, and Toyota head Akio Toyoda and appreciate the user experience of our five-sentence products.

That way our messages will get read–and replied to.

Posted 30 July, 2013 on Fast Company’s Leadership Now section of their website, which gives practical tips on cultivating productivity and creativity and improving management skills.

Cara Crisler
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2 Comments. Leave new

Rob Visser (@RobVis)
July 31, 2013 1:18 am

I can agree with your message: many mails ar longer than strictly necessary wich means that the content isn’t getting through and will not be used. For sender and receiver it would be more effective if the meaning of a mail is being read, so it can also beunderstood and applied.

On the other hand: a limit of 5 sentences can also be ineffective because the writer needs to press send, leaving the reader with a lot of questions that could have ben answered right away. In the second round of mails the have to pay attention to the subject again and rememer what was said before.

This is my 5th sentence … did you consider to write your blog in 5 sentences?

August 16, 2013 12:31 pm

I agree with you Rob, and have noticed in recent days that it’s very, very difficult for me to be as thorough as I’d like and keep my emails to 5 sentences! I suppose the most important message for me in all of this is be clearer about the “why” I’m sending each email and the request(s) I’m making (being less vague and super specific). Ha, I did NOT consider writing this or any other blog post in 5 sentences – what a challenge that would be for me! I do not Twitter, because I cannot possibly imagine saying anything meaningful using less than 200 characters. Room for growth?


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