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06-08-2009

I am so used to fitting all the guts of my communications into 140 characters and that is flowing on to other communications channels. Since using Twitter my emails are shorter and more to the point, particularly with people I know well.
When I write an email, I keep asking myself - Do I really need to bother writing

- Hi Such and Such,
- How are you?
- Kind Regards, James

I think that dispensing with some formalities saves me time and helps the reader get straight to my point?

But will my pithy emails be perceived as rude?

What do you think?

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12 Responses

  1. Hi James,

    I know what you mean, but I still tend to keep the formalities in my emails. Have been burnt in the past with people taking the brevity the wrong way.

    Having said that, the last few days during an ERP Data Migration, I have been writing lots of very short emails, but they are all to the same person and within the space of a few hours, so it’s really like one big email cut into little pieces.

    Stu

  2. I fight with this a lot personally working as a web designer and developer. Basically all three of those points you wrote I avoid completely when emailing people I know or have met in real life, otherwise like you said it might sound rude for those that don’t actually know me.

  3. Not only are my emails getting shorter and more to the point, sometimes I find myself getting impatient with people who still fill their emails with unnecessary blah. I need to remind myself that not everyone is using Twitter, so they are usually not forced to be precise in 140 characters, and that they only want to be nice… Being friendly is never wrong, especially if all it takes is a few additional words to start or end an email. :-)

  4. Thanks Vaughn, you put it very clearly, ‘if you’ve met them in real life’. However, I always take care with clients ;)

    Stuart, The other problem I face, is that I end up sending all sorts of short emails across a day, particularly to my web developers. And then I sometimes think, ‘I should put them all in one longer email and press send when the day is done?’ None would get lost that way!

  5. Agreed Diane, being friendly never hurt anyone! In fact being overly polite and formal can work in your favour, particularly considering so few people do it these days!

  6. Hi James,

    good questions. I reckon you need to pay special attention to the pleasantries when communicating via email, as it’s a bit of a “cold” medium by nature and bringing some warmth into it will help deliver your message.

    Some people use templates to save time, for example by including “Best regards, Such-an-such” in their signature. This is slightly dangerous as your templated sign-off may be in contradiction with the message. Have you ever seen one of these:

    “Michael,
    Rararara $!@## … more angry rambling …

    Cheers!
    Barbara”

    The best solution I have found are “bit levers”, as introduced by Mark Hurst in his book Bit Literacy ( http://bitliteracy.com/ ). Bit levers are little tools that let you pre-compose text fragments (snippets) and then insert them anywhere by just typing an abbreviation. Here’s a couple that I use all the time: “cd-TAB” -> “Cheers, Jussi”, “pfa-TAB” - “Please find attached”.

    Try http://www.smileonmymac.com/TextExpander/ or http://www.typeit4me.com/ for yourself to see what I mean :)

    Cheers, Jussi

  7. Hi James! It’s an interesting point :grin: However, I don’t think my email writing has changed a lot, since becoming a tweeter. I think it’s important to keep them brief but like to still start with usual salutations, etc as I think most ppl have a shared understanding of email etiquette now and I wouldn’t want to assume that others are using Twitter, and therefore like Stuart said, for brevity to be taken the wrong way.

  8. @Eleanor, my email etiquette hasn’t changed much either, as I am worried what people might think. Unless of course i know the person!

  9. Hi Jussi,

    Thank you so much!

    I didn’t know about bit levers! I have just installed typeit4me!

    Cheers,
    James

  10. Frank 15/10/09
  11. If running a PC use the freeware http://www.phraseexpress.com and your emails are comprehensive and nice. ;-)

    Frank

  12. I find my emails pithier, though I’m not sure Twitter is the cause. But, I’m still conscious of tone in greeting and closing. I start formal and verbose and ease into casual and pithy depending on how the email exchanges go. Bobulate has two great posts, that describe this:

    http://iii.bobulate.com/2008/12/anatomy-of-a-salutation/
    http://iii.bobulate.com/2007/11/second-chance-for-a-last-impression/

  13. Btw only my partner Janet calls me Jussi, but if we get to know each other you might get away with it :smile:

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