I got to thinking about the emails that land in my inbox and what I tend to respond to and what I don’t respond to. There are five things that make me more likely to respond.
1. Be super brief
When I open an email that is paragraphs long, I feel overwhelmed. I try to sail through my emails as fast as humanly possible which puts me in sprinting mode. A loooong email makes me feel like I’m grinding into marathon mode. When that happens, I tend to resent it and then I delete. I’m not saying that’s good, I’m just sayin’.
2. Cut to the chase
A lot of emails I get provide a lot of background. I understand this tendency because I am the QUEEN OF GIVING TOO MUCH BACKGROUND. I’m trying to work on this though, because when I read emails, I really prefer only the essential background details. If I need more background, I can ask.
3. Use numbered lists
I like numbered lists, as in, if you have 3 questions for me, I’d much rather they be clearly identified by a “1, 2, 3” instead of being buried in a lot of text. I don’t do so well with questions buried in text. I tend to miss them. That leads me to…
4. Tell me what you want
Sometimes I get emails and by the time I get to the end, I have no idea what the sender wants from me. Do they want advice? Do they want me to check out their site? Are they just sending encouragement? Are they telling me in a not-so-direct way that they don’t like my post? I know it’s crazy, but this makes it really challenging to know how to respond.
5. Use automated email messages carefully, or not at all
Have you ever emailed someone and gotten an immediate (automated) response telling you they get tons of emails and therefore probably won’t respond? I understand the thinking behind this, but my suggestion is to simply indicate on your contact page that this is the case. That way, I can decide whether I want to spend the time composing my email to you in the first place. (I do think an exception would be if you’re away on vacation and won’t be checking email for an extended period of time.)
6. Make it easy for me to answer
If I can answer an email with a quick “Yes!” or “No.” or “I wrote about that here…” or “Thank you for your note!” or “That looks great to me!” or “I’d go with Option A over Option B.” or something similar, I usually respond. But if you pose a very open-ended question, I often would like to answer but simply don’t have time.
Mostly because I probably have to go make dinner.