The 1 Email Successful People Never Send

Check out this recent article from the Huffington Post on business email etiquette:

Want to get ahead? Emulate the super-successful and never send a long email.

Steve Jobs was a well-known sender of short emails. The Apple co-founder’s email address was public for much of his time as Apple’s CEO, and he often responded to emails from customers. He was always blunt.

Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is known at his company for sending unnervingly short emails. Bezos’s email address is public, and he receives many emails from customers, which he forwards to the relevant people with one single addition: a question mark. “When Amazon employees get a Bezos question mark e-mail, they react as though they’ve discovered a ticking bomb,” Brad Stone writes in his biography of Bezos.

“For various reasons, short emails are more associated with people at the top of the food chain. If you also send short emails it puts you in the company of the decision-makers,” said Will Schwalbe, co-author with David Shipley of Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better. Short emails, he said, are “much more respectful of everyone’s time.”

Plus, the way we’ve dealt with emails has changed, so the style in which we write them should, too. “We started using email entirely on desktop computers, and we now use emails mainly on handheld,” Schwalbe says. “A long email is harder to read on handheld, because it involves endless scrolling.”

There’s even a movement to limit emails to five sentences or fewer. “Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response,” says the Five Sentences website. “Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead.” If you’re interested in joining the Five Sentences movement you’re encouraged to include the following in your email signature: “Q: Why is this email five sentences or less? A:” For the bold, there are also movements that encourage you to keep emails to four sentences, three sentences or (gulp) two sentences.

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