Too short is too short, too long is too long. So just long enough is what you should be aiming for.

When you want something from someone, I find getting to the point quickly and keeping there is important. However, because the communication channels we use determine the length (Twitter, SMS etc) it is important to choose wisely.  Too often people use a short e-mail from a mobile phone to ask for something and wonder why it is turned down.

Very short messages are fine when simply stating facts: ‘my train will arrive in ten minutes’.  But if you want someone to do something for you, you need to add some flourishes to wake up their emotional responses.  Just like an energy saving lamp, they only reach their full potential when given a little time. 

‘My Christmas shopping trip went fine, bought some lovely presents, but bags are heavy and my arms are tired, my train arrives in ten minutes – any chance of a lift from the station :- / ?’

I have a number of stock e-mails in my head that I work and re-work for every occasion.  And these come in very handy when one wants something in a hurry. However these are no longer enough.

There was a time when the art of letter writing was one of the most important skills of leadership and management (getting people to respond in a way you want).  But then came telegrams and now we have e-mails, blogging, texting, tweeting and commenting.  Each requires a structure and more importantly a purpose. Mix them up and you’re left standing in the snow at the station, weighed down with heavy shopping bags, waiting for a taxi.

Have a good week,

Harley