Will You Read My Long E-Mail?

A bulleted list of excuses and rationalizations.

October 8, 2014

There are two types of people in the world. Those who are happy to get a long e-mail from me. And those who are not. (The first category is, shall we say, an exclusive and select group).

I’m a long e-mail writer. One of those folks who causes waves of panic when a one of my e-mails makes it past your spam filter and into your inbox. All I can do is apologize.

The reason that I write long e-mails is not to torture you. I write long e-mails because:

  • It is important to me that you are in the loop, that you hear it first from me, and that I’m sharing with you what I know.
  • Writing helps me organize my thoughts, tasks, projects, and ideas.
  • I want your opinion, feedback, ideas, critiques and questions.
  • Our work is collaborative, and it depends on all of us know what is going on and being on the same page with our thinking.
  • I’m trying to persuade you to take some action or invest in some project, and e-mail is how I communicate the rationale and the evidence.
  • I’m juggling too many things (who of us in not), and to paraphrase Mark Twain (or maybe Pascal), I don’t have time to write you a short e-mail so I’m writing you a longer one instead.
  • I never left school, and despite everyone’s best effort to cure me, I still think in the 20 page term paper and the 300 page dissertation.
  • I don’t know what I think until I write it down.  (In an e-mail to you).

The good news is that I will not only send you long e-mails, I want to read your long e-mails as well. The thing is, your life and your work is probably more interesting to me than it is to you. Maybe it is the sociologist in me. Send details. Send ideas.  Send questions.  Send facts.  Send opinions.  Send plans.  Send proposals.   Let me know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Don’t worry, I read fast, and I want to know what is on your mind.

Are you a reformed long e-mail sender?

How has your e-mail writing behavior changed as your career has progressed?


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