Emailing Strangers

Ryan Holiday did a post recently with some rules for emailing strangers.  One is quite good but another needs to be looked at again.

He mentioned Humanness as being a virtue.  By letting imperfections in speech slide, the other person feels like they are talking with a real human being.  Although i no longer punch out emails without capitalization and proper punctuation, those emails that i receive without it are still warming and somehow less strenuous on the eyes.  but my pride or whatever would never let me get past it in my own emails.

Ryan’s last rule was this: Again, emails, questions, comments, views – all of those incur a cost upon the person you want something from. It’s your job to make those as low as possible.

This is terrible advice for anyone who hesitates about emailing somebody important.  Especially me.  In the States everyone around me seems so incredibly busy that asking anything of anyone seems like such a burden to them that it can cause me to not even bother.  Looking at things like this is not emotionally healthy.

I agree, emails should be clear and straightforward, and not too long.  But fuck, if I worry about how many minutes of this guy’s time I’m going to take before I send this email, I’ll never send it off.  The best assumption is not that your email, question, or comment is going to be a burden, but that it is going to be well-received.

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2 thoughts on “Emailing Strangers

  1. I feel with you on the fact that everyone in the states seems way too busy to even dabble with a email from a student like me. But then like you said, its all about attitude.

    If I know I can offer something in return, or if I’m extremely concise in my email, all I do now is tell myself “Ah fuck it, so what if I dont get a response.” Because its all about saying you authentically tried, and who knows, it could pay off dividends, or maybe they didnt get your email at all…something I’m willing to risk.

  2. Dude, you’re way off here. Deciding to purposely deceive yourself is an awful idea, especially when the enter thrust of an endeavor is aimed at perceiving how someone else is going to interpret your words.

    Whether you believe it or not, your email does incur a cost on someone and certain people have different thresholds as to what that cost will be. You either address that or you’re just hoping to get luck – which is stupid.

    I know this seems like it’s a quibbling issue but you’re very much wrong here.

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