I use to group email types into four categories: long, short, big chuck, list.
These are more ‘attributes’ then real categories, attributes that can be combined: you can have a short-big chunk or a short – list, you can have a long – big chunk or a long list.
LONG: not much to say. Some people love to send LONG email: they usually love details or love telling stories. Answering in a short way, you could be perceived as rude or as not having answers or skills to answer.
SHORT: the opposite of long. They love the big picture, no details, no story telling. If you are too long at least be sure the ‘core’ answer is in the first sentence: they will seldom read the whole email. If you want to add details put them in attachment even if they’ll probably not read it (as Mark use to say).
BIG CHUNK: no meter if the mail is long or short, these guys seem to forget the ‘enter’ button in the keyboard. It’s more a ‘stream of consciousness’ style: no line feed, sometimes no capital letter after the full stop, often long sentences. They don’t need (and probably hate – to ‘artificial’ for them) a kind of ‘visual’ order to the email layout.
LIST: the opposite of big chunk. They love bullets, lists, action items. They need clear ‘in line’ answer to every single point. Answering with a ‘big unique sentence’ makes them feel the situation is not under control.
… to be continued …