Four reasons why I send longer emails than you like to receive
Cultural differences are a fascinating thing. Differences in preferred communications styles are too. We are so used to our surroundings, our ways of working and living that we rarely notice them. Then we encounter something different and it makes no sense, it can even be annoying at times. Why don’t you see that the way I have always done things is better?
I have some experience with this in my career. Moving countries and cultures opened up a whole world of things I do ‘wrong’ that I hadn’t even thought about before. I have lost count the amount of times I have been told the long emails I write shouldn’t exist. I even had a colleague who swore that they wouldn’t read emails of a certain length. If this is true, I suspect by applying this blanket rule of stubbornness they are missing out on important information at times from a number of senders.
Over the years I have taken the feedback onboard, learnt and grown from my new precious and valuable insight. Yet, I continue to write them for these four reasons.
- I am considerate and respectful of your list of priorities. I have something you need to know which is important but not urgent. Rather than disturb you from what could be important and urgent, I will just write it down and ping it over. When you open your email you can now decide what priority this should hold and act accordingly. I suppose I could put yet another half an hour meeting into your calendar which could be covered by a well written email… if you prefer?
- If I send a note as an FYI we can both easily and conveniently keep, copy or forward it where it needs to go. This alleviates more meetings and is particularly helpful when you don’t know who needs to know the information.
- This message does not need a immediate reply, which a meeting a impromptu conversation can imply. I would like to give you an opportunity to think on it and get back to me when you have had the chance to do so.
- People can have a tendency to interrupt before a message is delivered and take the focus in the wrong direction. Some messages need to be delivered in a beginning/middle/end structure in order to be effective. If you interrupt at the beginning you will miss the message and we will waste more time than reading a long email because we need to keep circling back to the beginning.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not emailing out performance reviews. I don’t write novels about numbers with appendices and references about day to day activities. Face to face communication is vital, we need it to ensure our tone is not misconstrued. We need meetings to discuss and spar, we need video calls to hash out the details effectively. Most importantly, we are humans and we weren’t born with a screen next to our faces and a keyboard attached to our fingertips. The vast majority of us need interaction that email cannot provide. That being said, as stubbornly as my colleague refuses to read a long email, I maintain that in some cases it remains to be a great option. Further to that, in a lot of those cases, it’s done in the best interests of the reader.