I have been dealing with this subject in my head for a while now and it seems the perfect time to write it down since 1) I just came from vacation 3 weeks ago to find emails piling up and 2) because we are in the middle of the year end craziness. Meaning there is a lot to be done and quite some stuff to wrap up before January 1st.
When I am really busy I find myself writing shorter (as in 1 or 2 words) and not so “by the book” polite (no “hello”, no “how are you”, no “regards”) emails and sometimes I wonder how people on the other feel about getting those emails. If the messages are for internal communication I believe they are not harmful since my co-workers understand the “cut to the chase” approach and salutations are just putting in some extra words to be read (and written, of course), so in the end everybody benefits from that, because we all agree we get too many emails.
But what about people outside our company? With Clients/Partners/Suppliers I don’t feel at ease writing those plain emails unless the other party is already on that mindset as well (which is something easily spotted). On these external contacts I always try to be more respectful of the norms and avoid rushing things for productivity sake, but more and more we need to GTD and I see 3 word emails as a contributor for that cause. We never know how our very short and right to the point email will be interpreted on the other end (and it may be seen as plain rudeness), so I try to make sure I will not be offending the recipient, before hitting the send button.
Anyway I guess the trend towards shorter emails is growing and becoming widely accepted because of mobile. I believe most people will give you a break if you are taking your time to get back to them while on the go or on your downtime, and then they don’t expect a perfectly crafted email – anything that allows them to move forward will suffice. Overall and in the end most people don’t know if you are sending from a desktop or a mobile device so as long as they have the mobile possibility in mind they will go along with it.
Power Tip: always double check if you really must hit reply. Most likely, if you are only sending a “ok” or “thank you” note you can probably skip it altogether and avoid yet another email on the other end – at least that’s how I feel about that.