A couple weeks ago, a good friend sent an email that ended with a question and I replied to that email with an answer. The funny thing is, that as I read the email I couldn’t believe how badly my friend was baiting me. I remember thinking – I can’t wait to delete this horse crap.
The pop psychology of a question
My friend did a few things completely right with that email. First, before he ever got to the question, he wrote a compelling subject line that got me to open the email. Okay, it was from a friend so I would have opened it anyway. Next, he started by clearly explaining what the email would be about.
By the time I got to his well-worded question asking for my help by sharing my opinion on the subject, I couldn’t’ refuse. Never mind that we vehemently disagree on this topic. He had done everything else right in a civil and well thought out tone.
Moments after sending the reply, I sat and pondered why. I think deep down we all want to be useful and helpful. My friend asked for my help and I responded. I started crafting most of my emails like my friend’s:ending with a question. As you might imagine, it has greatly reduced the number of times I have to send the old “FYI – when you have time could I get a response” emails. Or worse yet, picking up the dreaded phone to triple tap the poor soul on the other end of the line about the subject.
Good clear communication saves a great deal of time. Before you start thinking this makes me manipulative,instead think of all the time you save everyone involved; including me. I explain what I need and then ask a very specific question. You respond to the question. Boom! We are done.
Please utilize the comments of this post to let us all know what works for getting responses to your emails.
(The topic of my friend’s email you ask? – The Green Bay Packers, New York Giants game. He proved to be correct, the Packers won. – and you thought I was all business…)