The Art of the Long Email

By Spicer Matthews

Long EmailsMost people hate receiving long emails. In fact, some people think emails should be no more than 3 lines long (or 2, or 4, or 5). This is not my personal style. I like to give recipients everything they need in one email. I believe that doing so optimizes my time and theirs. One of two things happen when I send a long, detailed email to someone: either they never read it and drop off or they appreciate having all of the pertinent information in a single reference document. Either way, it amounts to one focused episode in my life versus scattered smaller ones.

Let’s look at the first case in which the recipient never reads my email. Maybe this person is a contractor, vendor, employee, friend looking for advice, or my mom :). If the person is not detail oriented enough to read and process my long email (my nice way of saying they are lazy), then they simply are not a good fit for me in terms of communication style (sorry, mom). And, most likely, working together is not in our best interest. In the case of friends or relatives seeking my advice, many simply move on and get the advice elsewhere if a long reply is too much of a hurdle for them. Simply put, long emails can serve to weed out lazy and needy people—a real time saver in the long run.

In the second case, in which the recipient of a lengthy email is appreciative, the flow of information is optimized to reduce the likelihood of lots of back and forth dialogue. This is a good thing because the fragmented nature of lengthy email exchanges makes them hard to follow and too often results in offhandedness. Providing a single, thoroughly informative document to which the recipient can refer as needed is much more efficient.

Everyone has their own take on email. Some people love it, some hate it, and others simply tolerate it. I admire and like to be around detail-oriented people who value having lots of information up front. People who even, perhaps, appreciate having too much information. We are this type at Cloudmanic Labs and I think our company is pretty darn effective.