I have a virtual mentor by the name of Chris Ducker. I refer to him as virtual because we live on different continents, and because he mentors hundreds of people like me as part of an online community.
Chris has this great 3-sentence rule that he applies to all emails. Surely he makes an exception now and then, but I believe he relentlessly stands by his rule. I love this rule, and I totally get it!
The reason behind the rule in one word
Chris includes a link in his signature line that explains the his 3-sentence rule. He sums up the reason in one word–productivity. While it’s true that some emails require a more lengthy response, three sentences will do in most cases. I’ve consider myself to be fairly brief in my own email responses, although this wasn’t always the case. Then I started trying to consistently reply in three sentences or less. It’s not easy.
Does 5 sentences or less work?
I find that I’m both comfortable and confident replying to emails in five sentences or less. I’m also comfortable and confident that I’ll work my way down to a 3 sentence rule like Chris. I simply need to remind myself that this allows me to respond to the people who deserve a response, and to do so in a concise manner. Most everyone I know values their time at least as much as I do; so I figure I’m doing us all a favor. It’s definitely helpful to those of us who receive 100+ emails per day.
Do you have a 3 or 5 sentence philosophy for email replies?