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In many cases, I understand and appreciate what the person is writing (in each sentence), but have little to say in response, even if I really like what the person is saying. So when I have little to say in response, the number of replies I can make is rather limited [ah okay, oh ok, so basically, ah sure, oh interesting, oh true, good point, intriguing, nice, etc...]. Sometimes I try to repeat what they say and then say "that's interesting". But then people have told me that I'm like a void.

Of course, it's not required for me to say anything substantial, but I do want them to write more (and to feel appreciated). And it can be discouraging to them if they can't tell whether or not I truly appreciate what they say or if I'm just saying it just to be nice.

In fact, this frequently happens in academic emails (especially with professors) - although the roles are reversed in this case - I might send paragraphs of replies, and the professor may only send a reply that's a sentence long (even if he appreciates everything I've written). It might actually be easier if we could just comment on emails like we can insert comments in Microsoft Word documents (or in the margins of a final paper) - but that isn't possible with the email software that we usually use

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There is no rule that you have to produce an equal volume of words in order for your correspondent to appreciate you. In fact, if you quote every sentence individually, inserting "I agree" or "good point" after each, that's going to lower people's impression of you -- it's a "me, too" reply, only worse because the person has to dig in case you had anything else to say.

It's fine to just say something like "thank you for all your help; I really appreciate it". If you like, you can add "your point about (whatever) was particularly helpful to me".

Don't quote the entire message; he already knows what it says since he wrote it.

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+1. Good phrasings include: "You made a lot of really good points," "I really like what you've written," "All your comments have been extremely helpful," etc. –  Standback Jul 5 '11 at 21:00

A few possibilities...

First, the (relatively) easier one: Say, "Thank you." Then stop.

Now, a more difficult one: Your reaction comes not only from what they said, but from a connection between what they said and something in you. The responses you mention comment almost entirely on what they said, and add little of you to the conversation.

So: Take a moment to consider what it is in you that their words connected with. What need or aspiration or desire or fear or yearning or ...?

Once you've discovered what you are contributing to your response, consider expressing that, and how the writer's words and ideas touch that part of you.

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Thanks! This was also quite helpful –  InquilineKea Jul 5 '11 at 23:53

how about something like "I agree with all the points you've made here. You covered this thoroughly and did an excellent job. I could not improve upon this."?

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Thanks! Hmm I'll try to find somewhere where I can use that phrase –  InquilineKea Jul 5 '11 at 23:54

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