Be Succinct.
1 min read

Be Succinct.

Especially In Writing.

Use “I” and “Me” less.
These two words are terrible. They make you sound weak and they make you write passive verbs. Activate your verbs by removing these pronouns.

For example:
“I don’t think this is a good idea” vs. “This is not a good idea.”

Tell me which is stronger? Which is easier to read and which is better at getting the point across? In my opinion, the second, but your mileage may vary.

“But, David, this makes me sound like a huge jerk,” you say. If you’re really worried, then put a smiley at the end of the sentence. But you shouldn’t be because your reader will thank you.

Edit. Then edit again.
Shorter messages are better. You can always edit your sentences down. Read some Hemingway; the guy knows how to write a short sentence. Here’s some homework, the next time you respond to an email from a colleague or coworker, go back and try to cut out as many words as possible; you’ll be surprised at the results. Not only will it be more succinct, it will read like you mean it.

Be vigorous, but positive.
When I write an email, I find it better to be as vigorous yet positive as possible. This maximizes your point for the reader. Being vigorous induces and promotes focus for the reader, but remaining positive is a reminder that you are constructive.

To give an example, here’s an early draft of something I wrote in response to an email. Here’s the message I received:

Hi David,Can you bring back the garage opener sometime next week?
Thank you and have a nice weekend!

And here’s my original draft response:

“Of course, I’m sorry for the delay. I meant to bring it back on Sunday but was late for a 8:30AM flight. I will be back next week and return it sometime then, probably Monday. Thanks!”

Then edited it down to:

Absolutely. Sorry for the delay. Had to run out of town.

The original message is redundant. For starters, the sender is already asking to return the item back next week, there’s no reason for me to repeat it. All I need to basically say is yes, apologize and a brief explanation why I’m late.

Actually, now that I look at this, the best response would have been:


And I should bring it back on Monday.

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