Is Your E-mail Concise—or Curt?

by David Silverman

A reader of my blog on HBR.org wrote with the following query:

I manage 15 staff who are scattered about. I e-mail them since it’s the easiest way for me to communicate with all of them at the same time. Often my e-mails are very short and to the point. It’s business. Two staff see that as my being harsh and have no problem letting me know that.

Here’s an example: “Would you please update these primary care providers in the database, including addresses and phone numbers?”

Six days later, I sent this follow-up to my initial request: “I would like this taken care of by Thursday this week. If you are having trouble getting this done, please let me know.”

In return, my employee sent me a four-paragraph ...

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