Two emails

Monday morning. I am looking at an email message  and feel I am about to lose it. The red text reminds  that the time is flying and I am hopelessly behind. The blue text confuses or irritates. The infamous “Thanks in advance!” does both. 

Dear Aleh

Just a reminder with regards to the next [project] meeting ([place], [city]/[country], [dd-dd]/09/2013), which is quickly approaching. We have not yet received any information from you with regards to your attendance to the meeting.

Please, note that the hotel pre-booking will expire on [dd]/09/2013, so, please, make your reservation as soon as possible. For your convenience, I have copied here below the e-mail sent by [Ms. Johansson] (from the [place]) some days ago with all the instructions for the reservation.

Thanks in advance for your kind availability.

(color highlights mine; information about the meeting is anonymized)

Why can’t the same be said as follows:

Dear Aleh

Are you coming to the [project] meeting in September? If so please let me know asap! If you want a discounted room you need to reserve by Monday (see enclosed information).

Hope to see you there!

The first letter has 97 words while the second one has 38 words. The second email is more likely to result in immediate action, reduce  stress, and strengthen my friendship with the sender.


About Aleh Cherp

Aleh Cherp is a professor at Central European University and Lund University. He researchers energy and environment and coordinates MESPOM, a Masters course operated by six Universities.
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10 Responses to Two emails

  1. Bala Mulloth says:

    Great post! I find it surprising that the traditional email models and formats hasn’t really evolved since the early days. It could learn a thing or two from Twitter!


  2. Pingback: Never end your email with “Thanks in advance” | Academic workflows on Mac

  3. Csaba Pusztai says:

    Maybe the sender does not want to strengthen the friendship.


  4. This goes along well with Richard Lanham’s book “Revising Prose” which is a terrific read.


  5. I write the first type of email when I need to leave a paper trail or copy in someone that needs to know I’m in charge of all the facts. (It’s very turgid.) I love the second email… 😉


  6. Ania says:

    As much as I would love to receive/send emails of the second type, I think it’s really a difficult decision to forgo all those traditional courtesy phrases. I don’t think I would have the guts to send email #2 to anyone of a higher professional rank. The sender of the first email obviously is just trying to be polite. As a graduate student, I often phase this problem when addressing my advisors, coauthors, or speakers I am inviting to give a talk.. Whatever I write, I am always very careful to not sound disrespectful or nagging. And it’s really hard to convey in 140 characters. I wish there was some middle ground.


  7. Pingback: The future of email: an empathy algorithm | Academic workflows on a Mac

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