A Reddit-approved formatting trick for any kind of email
I’ve written several posts on this website that hint at my preoccupation with communication best practices—in crises and in general—and the dark art of inbox maintenance. Maybe it’s my severely hampered executive functioning capability, or maybe it’s just one of those sensitivities a person gets after a decade and change of navigating the working world as an ethnically ambiguous woman who happens to also read as profoundly, ecstatically queer. Sometimes, one’s circumstances provide a sensible explanation for their anxiety over how their words might be perceived—or misread.
Whatever the cause, the takeaway here is that I spend a ridiculous amount of time anxiously avoiding my inbox.
The good news is that I just stumbled on a post from my new favorite subreddit whose advice I fully plan on stealing for my next email draft. It provides a simple, foolproof formula for emails that are clear, concise, and do the job that’s intended: lead with the ask.
That’s it. Skip the niceties and go straight to the “I’m writing this because I need X.” And then, only then, do you fill in the blanks of why, when, how, and “hope you’re doing as well as can be, given the cornucopia of catastrophe upon which our futures collectively rest.” (Just kidding on that last part.)
As Reddit user gamasco explains, this approach to email saves your reader a bunch of time and brain space and makes you sound professional to boot. Most importantly, it saves you the hassle of spinning yourself up to say the thing you’re emailing to say.