If there’s one way to tell if a person is insane, it’s from their Yelp reviews. The longer the review, the crazier the Yelper is. In fact, this is pretty much the rule in all social situations–people who talk too much are usually nuts. Constant babbling is covering for some deeper psychosis.
It’s a combination of this discovery and my well-known addiction to Twitter that I’ve developed a new rule in business communication: Email Haiku.
An email should not be longer than 5 sentences. When responding, an email certainly should not be longer than the original message. The length of the incoming message is an indication of how much the sender is willing to read. No matter how excited you may be to respond to a particularly juicy message, rambling on will drive the reader to either table the message for later (and likely never get back to it) or think you’re a wackjob. If you enjoy talking as much as I do, you probably know that going on and on just gives you more rope to hang yourself with. Keep it short.
Twitter has forced me to edit my thoughts down to 140 character chunks, which when applied to Email Haiku makes it possible to pack a lot of meaning in those five sentences. If you’re not a Twitter junkie, become one. It doesn’t matter if nobody reads your meaningless tweets. It helps you become terse. When the art of brevity is mastered, you’ll find that your email response rate increases as does your general efficiency of communication.