Startups always teach you the best of all the worlds. I have this habit of writing perfect mails and I see that to be a big problem. Amazed? You must be thinking so what’s the problem with that. Hmmm… Let me tell you more about it. When I write mails, I make sure that each and every word is grammatically correct, sentences are formed as per those typical grammar rules book, whether appropriate words are used at appropriate places or not and above all, even try to address the probable rebuttals that the recipient(s) might have after reading my email. I understand some might still say, “Wow, that’s a good habit to have. What’s wrong in it?” I would say “No problem as such.” However, when I write such long mails, it takes a lot of time. Time I could have used for some other productive work. That’s one. What’s also wrong is my habit of making assumptions about rebuttals the recipient(s) might have and addressing them right in my first mail. I don’t see this to be a very productive way of writing emails because at the end of the day, it’s an assumption. The recipient might not have all of those rebuttals and this would mean I unnecessarily spent time writing replies for them. Another problem with writing such long, grammar-accurate emails is that when you do that, people who reply to your email are also in a way compelled to do the same, esp. the ones who work with you. And this leads to delay in email communication – I take longer time to type my emails and when the recipient types his reply to my email, he also takes in more time since longer mails with 10 out of 10 points in grammar do take time to write. It’s an endless loop that’s productive for no one.
So, how did it all start? I always used to think that mails put forth the first impression of who you are, your insights and intellect. They are the first reflection of your personality. And if I write mails in hurry without taking due care of grammar rules, like sentence formations, tenses, etc. they won’t present a good reflection of who I am to the recipient.
- No more sugary pleasantries – I will not write any unnecessary pleasantries in which the recipient is not interested and actually don’t convey anything.
- I shall type emails/replies very quick – This means I will keep my emails/replies short and straight to the point, no more long stories.
- I won’t get in to the groove of writing replies to the possible rebuttals the recipient(s) has(ve) – If they have some queries, they will revert back and then I will have an exact idea of what kind of clarification they are looking for rather than banging my head trying to think of the probable rebuttals they might have to my mail.
- Won’t care about grammar rules – For replies and regular mails, I shall not be very particular about all sorts of unnecessary grammar rules like, first alphabet after period should be in caps, keeping sentence formations very very perfect, etc. Will just ensure that the mail communicates the message with me spending minimum possible time on scrutinizing the grammar accuracy of what I’ve written.
- Will write mails/replies in bulleted points – Writing mails/replies in bullets helps to stay focused on what is to be communicated and also makes it easier for recipient(s) to apprehend the content of the email well.
- None of the internal mails should be more than 500 characters. If something that is to be communicated cannot be done within this 500 characters limit, like legal terms and conditions, etc. they should be done as attachments. But we’re making it a point that this does not serve as an unnecessary excuse to resume writing longer mails by way of attachments.
- Secondly, if there are some points which are actually very long and can’t be put down in 500 characters, pick up your phone and talk to that person. Or a better way is, go to his/her desk and discuss. And then summarize it in 500 characters, if required over email.
- I have come across a couple of write-ups on internet that suggest that a typical communication can be done within 500 words. So, that shall not act as barrier to communicate well for teams inside MetisMe.