"Hey Prof, when do we finally get our exam results?" No joke, such "casual" requests are part of a professor’s daily work nowadays. But even in everyday engineering, e-mails sometimes come across as disrespectful. The question is: What does a correct e-mail actually look like??
The emails from the day all still need to be answered? No. 24 hours the sender must already be patient in the business life, before a renewed inquiry is respectable.
Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa
Let’s be honest: Even when writing business e-mails, let’s make sure we use the right form of address, the right tone of voice? Is there such a thing as etiquette for writing, a kind of etiquette for electronic mail?? Yes, there is. And if we stick to this, we make our work easier for ourselves and our communication partners. Because what is still accepted by students, can become a career killer in the job. Professional mail- we show you how it works.
1. Correct salutation
An e-mail is not a WhatsApp. The electronic letter replaces more and more the classical business letter. As far as the form is concerned, however, almost nothing has changed. So also at the beginning of a mail a salutation belongs. With "Dear Sir or Madam" you don’t do anything wrong, if you can’t identify the recipient. Otherwise the name of the addressee must be included (Dear Mr. Muller) and if available also the academic title (Dear Professor Muller). Among colleagues it is also possible to say: "Hello Mr. Muller" – if a casual tone is desired in the company. However, this is not recommended for a first contact.
2. Fill in the subject line correctly
You don’t want to steal anyone’s time with a mail- for this reason alone, the subject line should always be filled in. And in such a way that the recipient can immediately recognize what it is all about. „Important" or "Participation as a subject are not enough. And it is a bad habit to select an earlier e-mail with its outdated subject for a new topic, for example because you want to use the distribution list. The subject line must always be correctly filled in and up-to-date.
3. Get to the point
In an e-mail, you should always write the shortest possible sentences, the content of which can be grasped more quickly. As a rule, the text should not be longer than one A4 page. If you have more to say than what fits in five lines- then please divide into sections. This makes it easier for the reader.
Be careful not to automatically turn every mail into a circular mail. At least those from whom you do not expect a reaction to your letter should "CC" stand. That is where they belong. And not to the first line of recipients.
4. Always stay factual
Do not allow yourself to be provoked and never abandon the factual level in the case of differing points of view. Always keep the tone friendly. Remember: Once you have sent something, you cannot get it back. If the recipient prints out the mail, he may have something in writing against you if the matter escalates. Differences of opinion among colleagues should not be settled by mail as a matter of principle. In this case, it is better to pick up the phone or, even better, sit down together at a table to clarify the matter.
5. Avoid foreign words, abbreviations and irony
An e-mail is not a quiz, nor is it a platform for self-profiling. Always have the recipient in mind. How does the information reach him, must be the basic question. Otherwise, there is a risk that your mails will not even be read to the end. Another risk in case of non-compliance: you make yourself unpopular. And in the job, this can lead to k.o. lead. ÜBy the way, smileys and other emojis have no place in business correspondence.
6. Use links and attachments sparingly
Do not hide links in the mail text. It annoys the reader if he is redirected to an Internet page in the middle of a sentence. Always place links clearly visible in the text or directly at the end of your letter and your addressee can decide for themselves whether to click on them.
If you have attachments to send, pay attention to the file sizes. Five megabytes is a good guideline. When exceeding it is advisable to announce the mail heavy weight beforehand. Long waiting times when opening can lead to attachments ending up in the trash without being read. Or even worse: your mail clogs up the recipient’s mailbox if it is not filtered out beforehand and never arrives in the recipient’s inbox.
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7. Do not forget the final check
Mails are written just in between. In a hurry. With typos or especially fatal with meaningless terms, because the autocorrect has struck. At the very least, read through every important e-mail after it has been completed. Take a look at the addressee field: If your mail goes to the wrong address, it reflects badly on your reliability. The same applies if there are other documents in the attachment than announced in the mail.
8. Say goodbye nicely
Do not forget to end your mail "Sincerely yours" or to complete. Also "Best regards are appropriate. „Best regards" on the other hand belong in private correspondence. If some mails go back and forth, a simple "greeting" is sufficient. With business mails, a signature must of course also be included under the letter. With telephone numbers and postal address. For if the addressee is left with only mail as the only means of communication due to the lack of information from the sender- this is not only impolite, but can also unnecessarily prolong agreements. The law also stipulates that the legal form and registered office of the company, the registration court and the commercial register number as well as the first and last names of the managing directors must be stated in a signature.
9. Wait 24 hours
If you use the fast medium of electronic mail, you should not expect the recipient to reply within an hour. Well behaves, who keeps a 24-hour term and asks only at the earliest then politely.
If you’d like to read up on the worst professional faux pas, you can find our post on the subject here. And if you also want to know how to arm yourself against killer phrases, you can get support here.