How to write shorter emails (and not sound like a jerk)

RBE—it’s a thing, just like RBF is a thing. So if you’re concerned you have Resting [Blank] Emails, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Luckily, there is a cure. The magical email template of unicorns and rainbows! Check it out below.

Step 1: The Happy Salutation

The first step to dodging jerk-dom is to swap in a more casual salutation.

Hey John,

Or…

Hi John,

But never

Hiiya Johnny,

Or…

Hola Juanito,

(Unless you’ve communicated in Spanish before… and his name is Juanito)

Or…

Heeeeereee’s Johnny!

Come on, we have standards.

Unless you know the person super well, and enjoy occasionally being a doofus like I do, don’t get too comfortable right up front.

Step 2: The One-Two Relational Question

Next, you probably ought to care a little about the person you’re emailing, so ask a question! Could be about weather…

How is life on the east coast? Not too cold, I hope?

Or sports…

Hope you’re having an epic March. How’s your bracket?

Or family…

How’s the family? You guys recuperated from the epic vacation?

Or business…

How’re things going at Apple? You meet Johnny Ive yet?

Or Star Wars… (I may or may not have actually used this)

Glad to meet another Star Wars nerd! Btw, what’d you think of Solo?

Note that this always starts with something general, then moves to something specific to them.

The key here is to find a point of personal connection.

Step 3: The Business Part

Alrighty, now it’s time to get down to the brass tacks.

Sidenote: just learned that it is, in fact, “brass tacks” not “brass tax” nor “bass tracks.”

Anyways, be short and sweet and state your business. You likely won’t need to dress this up, since Steps 1 and 2 have given you a bit of relational capital in the email.

So, just be respectful, maybe even fun and sassy—just don’t be a jerk.

Step 4: The Happy Sum Up

After doing your business (tee hee), make sure to end positively.

If you’re working on a project together…

Excited about where this is headed. Can’t wait to make it happen!

Awaiting feedback…

Looking forward to hearing what you think!

Trying to close a deal…

Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to hop on the phone anytime!

Or just building relationship…

Would love to catch up on the phone and hear how everything’s going for you in the new job! Give me a jingle anytime.

Note the presence—but not overuse—of exclamation points. Be excited, not unhinged.

Step 5: The Complimentary Close

Instead of just your name, or a “Sincerely,” throw something happy in like…

Thanks,

Or…

Thanks!

Or…

Best,

Or…

Cheers,

Or find your own little closing line. Just steer clear of “Yippee ki-yay mother….”


As a guiding rule, enjoy your own emails. Have fun, let your personality into it a bit, but remember to balance all of that with a professional tone.

That’s it! You’re off to the races. Oh, and if you have some pointers to share, would love to hear them below!

4 thoughts on “How to write shorter emails (and not sound like a jerk)

  1. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr…
    well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog!

    1. Wow, that sucks! I’m so glad you enjoyed the blog, but I’m bummed you weren’t able to post your comment. Would love to hear more about what you thought, but totally get it if you don’t want to retype it, haha.

  2. Hi there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to
    know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have
    to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hey there! Awesome question and happy to help. I would recommend using either Squarespace or WordPress if you’re a beginning blogger. Doing with HTML is possible, but usually not recommended unless you’re familiar with development. What are you thinking of blogging about?

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