What percentage of US workers use email?

Writing emails: tips for better emailing

No sooner have you started the computer than one is running e-mail after the other one. On average, each employee receives 30 to 40 emails a day. In the case of executives there are even more. E-mails enable quick and compact communication, without which it is no longer possible in most professions. But not with them either: Quite a few employees now consider e-mails to be real time killers. The constant interruption prevents them from working productively. This leads to stress and exhaustion, and in the end you feel like you are lagging behind your own schedule. That is why we show you here and today, how to better deal with e-mails and the writing of e-mails ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

E-Mails: New reading behavior

A few years ago, Eric Horvitz found out that it took employees an average of 15 minutes to concentrate on their task again after being interrupted by an email. With this information, the 20 or more e-mails per day at once become a real productivity killer.

In addition, you communicate with customers, service providers, your colleagues and superiors with the help of e-mails. However, over time, especially in recent years, the The way email is read, changed. Long gone are the days when e-mails were only read on the computer. Today emails are becoming the majority read on the smartphone. You are able to access it anytime and anywhere, whether on the train on your way to work or at the supermarket checkout.

The new reading behavior also influences how e-mails are written: E-mails must be written in such a way that they can be read in the office as well as on a mobile device in between.

In this way, emails do not become vendettas

An email is written quickly and answered just as quickly. But fast is not always good. A hastily sent request here, an impulsive reaction there, a few typing errors and a lack of style - the recipient will already have a negative image of the author and thus possibly an incipient conflict. One of the peculiarities of email is that it evokes more emotions than it actually contains.

E-mails can do a lot, but not everything. Before a conflict escalates completely, please pay attention to the following indications that you should rather pick up the phone:

  • When you're still at 180 emotionally.
  • If you have never met the person in person before the conflict (making it difficult for him or her to assess you and your words).
  • If your exchange of email has already gone back and forth more than three times without the dispute being resolved.
  • When your email (or someone else's) fills the entire screen. Then the conflict is obviously too complex to be resolved in just a few lines.

The following applies in all of these cases: From here on, avoid anything that the recipient might consider aggressive, suspicious or degrading. Call them directly in a calm voice. Explain that there seems to be a misunderstanding here and clear it up. But even better: look for a one-to-one conversation.

E-mail: work or private?

First of all, of course it makes a difference whether you use yours Business partner Send an electronic mail or your best friend. In no case do you write an e-mail of a business nature without a reason. Rather, they want ...

  • your issue Communicate clearly and unambiguously in the email.
  • Your e-mail partner about important Facts or inform about developments.
  • a good impression leave.

In order to get your e-mail to your destination as quickly as possible, certain rules of the game should be observed:

  • Email Tip: Write briefly

    Write emails according to the maxim: as much as necessary, as little as possible. Avoid long explanations and nested sentences. These cost you a lot of time writing and your recipient reading. It is also exhausting to read long emails on a smartphone. Most of them will not read such letters in the first place.

  • Email Tip: Be clear about yourself

    Avoid excessive foreign words, Denglish word creations and excessive technical jargon. Clear language and short sentences make it easier for the recipient. E-mails are neither novels nor poems (at least not professional e-mails). You should get to the point in your e-mail quickly and with understandable words.

  • Email tip: stay friendly

    A polite or less polite tone of voice can also be discerned from e-mails. For example, if you put too many exclamation marks or even several callsigns in a row, the recipient will hear it like a loud scream. A polite salutation and a friendly farewell are basic requirements anyway. And if a lot of errors have crept into your e-mail (wrong name, spelling, etc.), this signals a lack of thoroughness - and that the recipient was apparently not worth the effort to you.

The basic rules of good email

Despite the changed reading behavior, the basic rules for composing an email have remained the same. We have summarized them clearly for you here:

  • Formulation: Remember to use your phrasing in a prudent way. Especially when you're upset. An email can be forwarded quickly. Once it has been recorded in writing, it is difficult to undo it.
  • Emoticons: Emoticons do not belong in a customer e-mail or any other formal e-mail. Smileys in the wrong place can give the impression that you are not taking your work seriously.
  • Abbreviations: Use abbreviations such as FYI (“For Your Interest”) only in exceptional cases. Often they cause more confusion than they provide clarity. You should only use abbreviations if you are absolutely sure that the recipient knows them.
  • Irony: Irony is often even more difficult to decipher in written form than in verbal form. Avoid doing this in business dealings from the outset. Better to keep your ironic jokes for the office.
  • Left: Use links in emails very carefully. Often they distract from the actual content of the mail. Sometimes, however, they also make it easier to understand the context. For example, if you want to be informed by e-mail about something that you have discovered on the Internet. In these cases, links make sense.
  • Attachments: Avoid attachments. Of course only where it is possible. But it is cumbersome and time-consuming for the reader to open an attachment and read it. Very few do that. Try to include information that is important and must be read in the body of the email. However, if you want to (or have to) send attachments with your e-mail, they should not be too large and thus overwhelm the recipient's inbox. As a benchmark, you can keep five megabytes in mind; your e-mail attachment should not exceed this size. Also remember to check again at the very end whether the appendix mentioned in the text is actually attached. Otherwise, you signal to the recipient that you are distracted and distracted. That doesn’t throw a good light on your work. And: Before sending the e-mail, open the attached documents again to check whether they are really the correct ones.

Step by step to a good email

We guide you Step by step through your mail. If you also observe the basic rules, you can confidently rely on the Submit button Press and be sure that your digital message is efficient:

  1. Select the correct email address.

    Always use the same email address for your business transactions. This should also be your business address. As soon as you mix up several e-mail addresses, sometimes business, sometimes private, the recipient gets confused and you lose track of your electronic conversation yourself.

  2. Write a meaningful subject line.

    Writing a good subject line is not that easy. The recipient should immediately understand what the email is about when they read your subject line. Give the topic a name and keep the text short. Not whole sentences! Many think that a brief subject line is rude. On the contrary: a short subject is more effective and saves time. Your address is polite. Example: Instead of writing “Submission of the short concept for the exhibition stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 8, 2014”, you should rather write “Approval: Short concept for the exhibition stand”. The recipient immediately knows what it is about and what to do.

  3. Continue the correspondence.

    Do not delete the messages you have written so far. This gives the reader the opportunity to scroll down again and read something if anything is unclear. It also makes referencing previous deadlines and tasks easier.

  4. Do not do without the salutation.

    Even if you are in a hurry. An email can be short, but never impolite. If possible, avoid using an anonymous form of address such as “Dear Sir or Madam” and instead write to your contact person personally: “Dear Mr. Mayer”. It is also important to spell the name correctly (Mayer or Meyer?) And not to ignore a possible title. If you are dealing with a professor and / or doctor, then do without the “Herr” and only use the (higher-ranking) title. Prof. Dr. Therefore write to Müller as follows: "Dear Prof. Müller". There is no alternative to abbreviations (Prof., Dr.). In any case, you should refrain from a casual introduction à la “Moin moin”, “Hey” or “Servus”, even if you did not get to know the business partner or customer as overly correct. Then you drive much better with a simple "Hello".

  5. Start with the most important information.

    The first sentence of your email should already contain all the important information. It should be immediately clear to the reader why you are contacting them.

  6. Avoid unnecessary information.

    Provide only the background information that is necessary to put your email in context. Never discuss more than one topic per email. Better to send two emails if you want to discuss different topics. This is important so that the recipient can archive your e-mail and find it again in a few weeks. In the case of a topic, the e-mail can be assigned to a folder or keyword and can thus be found again. The reader has to decide on two topics and it is difficult for him to remember afterwards in which e-mail you discussed what.

  7. Structure your emails.

    Nothing is more strenuous on the eye than a large block of text. Paragraphs increase reader friendliness.

  8. Use bullet points.

    Bullet points give your email additional structure. They are extremely practical because the reader can see at a glance what is important.

  9. Never forget the greeting at the end.

    Anything else would leave a bad aftertaste. A short MfG is the bare minimum, but it looks extremely formal despite the business nature of your email. Good and unhesitating alternatives are “Kind regards”, “Many greetings” or “Kind regards”. Here, too, the following applies: the farewell should not be too flippant (“see you then”). You will leave a very good final impression if you give your greeting a personal touch, something like this: “Greetings to Cologne” or “Greetings to wintery Berlin”.

  10. Check your contact details.

    Your address and phone number (s) in the signature should always be up to date. Otherwise your e-mail contact will not reach you in case of doubt, which would be very annoying and unprofessional.

  11. Unify the format.

    Use only a single font format and size to give your email a serious look. On the other side, mark to-dos and deadlines. Help the eye see what is important. You can grease deadlines that must be strictly adhered to. Apart from that, however, you should not arbitrarily bold individual passages or italicize them.

  12. Be sure to phrase it correctly.

    It looks unprofessional if you send an email full of spelling, dot, and comma errors, even if it's just a typo. This also includes correct upper and lower case, which is nowadays often neglected. Take the time to proofread the text briefly again before sending it.

  13. Check the address line before pressing Submit.

    It has already happened that an email that was supposed to be sent to the colleague was accidentally sent to a customer or to everyone.

  14. Get your email on the go.

    If you have observed everything, nothing stands in the way of sending your e-mail. Incidentally, in many mail programs you also have the option of sending your electronic mail with a time delay. This is useful, for example, if you already compose your email on Sunday, but only want to send it on Monday.

10 things you didn't know about email

Scientists at the University of California came to the conclusion in 2004 that an office worker can devote only eleven minutes to his task before he is distracted. A single intellectual stop-and-go. And after the involuntary break, it takes an average of 25 minutes to pick up the thread again. The flash of inspiration from earlier has of course been forgotten. No wonder that with so much digression, some of them get creamy at some point.

Therefore - even if e-mails sometimes make communication more efficient and help us to stay in contact or to structure the day - you should also know the other sides. We have put them together as a compact list in which ...

  • E-mails are not a substitute for personal contact. As management professor Jonathon Cummings at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business noted, teams need to speak to one another in person, not just email, or they will become less productive over time and relationships will deteriorate.
  • Who emails lies more often. As Charles Naquin from De Paul University in Chicago, Terri Kurtzberg from Rutgers University in New Jersey and Liuba Belkin from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania found in experiments, 92 percent of the participants deliberately lied to their mail recipients. Those who wrote a letter by hand were far less likely to lie. However, that was also 64 percent.
  • Emails hurt the flow. If you believe a study by Cardiff University, then we need even a 5-second interruption, triggered by e-mails, for example, more than the normal time to return to our flow. Thomas Jackson found that his test subjects needed an average of 64 seconds each time to concentrate on the old task again.
  • E-mails are mainly used in meetings. But out of boredom. According to a survey, two out of three employees admitted to dropping out of an ongoing meeting by answering their e-mails via smartphone (48 percent), chatting via app (28 percent), updating their status on Facebook (12 percent) or tweeting (9 percent).
  • E-mails that begin with U get more spam. Computer security expert Richard Clayton analyzed more than 550 million emails in 2008. The result: E-mail addresses that began with an A, M, P, R and S received up to 40 percent spam mail. If, on the other hand, the addresses began with the less frequently used letters Q, Y and Z, the rate sank to 20 percent. Also interesting: The letter “U” causes the most junk mail - a full 50 percent.
  • E-mails cost every fourth hour of work. 40 minutes of highly paid working time are unproductively destroyed day in and day out by emails, according to a Europe-wide survey of 180 executives by the British Henley Management College. Extrapolated, this means that managers waste an average of three valuable years of life looking through superfluous and useless mail. Mary Czerwinski even found out: We spend 23 percent of our working time processing (reading, writing, archiving, etc.) emails.
  • We are constantly checking our e-mail. You have mail! ... And quickly take a look by whom. And more often than you think! When Karen Renaud investigated this behavior, the test subjects said they looked at most every hour. In fact, they checked their emails every five minutes.
  • Stop sorting your emails! Contrary to previous assumptions, the authors of an IBM study recommend leaving the inbox as it is and using the search function later if necessary.In other words: if you sort your inbox into folders, labels or urgency levels, you are by no means more productive. Conversely: Those who did not organize their e-mails a bit and only used the search function, found important information much faster than their sorted colleagues. What's more, the latter also wasted time putting their e-mail in folders and constantly keeping the system from collapsing.
  • Never read emails in the morning. According to the US author Julie Morgenstern, this makes us unproductive. Reason: If you work off your e-mails first thing in the morning, you have the feeling that you have already done a lot. A dangerous mistake: the real work awaits us in the office. And then we are limp there. Therefore: First do the day's work for an hour and then check the e-mails.
  • 15 percent of job emails are gossip. According to a study by Eric Gilbert of Georgia Tech University, workers receive an average of 112 emails a day. But every seventh e-mail (14.7 percent) has nothing at all to do with the job; rather, the content can best be described as gossip. And that across all hierarchical levels. And it was 2.7 times more likely to blaspheme colleagues than positive reports about them.

Tips for using e-mails efficiently

Here are a few more suggestions on how to regain control of your mailbox:

  • Unsubscribe from unnecessary notifications.

    In addition to the important emails from customers and colleagues, the mailbox is flooded with numerous superfluous messages every day. Newsletters, notifications from social networks and advertising. Turn off notifications from social networks and wonder which newsletters you really read and the rest you should cancel.

  • Turn off incoming notification.

    If you hear the familiar sound that you have received a new message or if it pops up on your screen, you will want to check it immediately. But this will damage your concentration, because you will interrupt your work and then have to get back to work. There can be no workflow. The constant interruptions prevent you from working productively.

  • Define a time window for editing.

    So that you can concentrate on your tasks, set specific time frames in which to work on your e-mails. This can be, for example, twice a half hour or an hour a day. It is best to adjust the times for processing emails according to your biorhythm. Use those hours when you have the feeling that you cannot concentrate on current projects. The time windows minimize the distraction from your actual work, but at the same time ensure that you are constantly removing the mountain.

  • Have your mailbox pre-sorted.

    Create rules so that internal e-mails, e-mails for which you are only in cc, newsletters and customer e-mails automatically end up in different folders. You can then work through the folders piece by piece.

  • Skim instead of read.

    It will take you far too much time reading all of your emails in detail. Anyone who receives 30 or 40 e-mails a day is then only busy reading and can do nothing else. The subject line gives you an idea of ​​how important the message that has arrived is. Pay close attention to information in the text, for example to-dos or deadlines. You should only take the time to read carefully if you have really important e-mails.

  • Edit instead of moving.

    You should only touch every e-mail once and then decide what to do with it. If you keep postponing processing, you will ensure that the mountain of messages in your inbox grows steadily. Use the Eisenhower principle for this, for example. To do this, divide your emails into two categories: Are they important or unimportant? Are you in a hurry or not in a hurry? Now create a coordinate system for these categories - in a hurry at the top, not in a hurry at the bottom, important on the left and unimportant on the right. It can help here if you create appropriate folders in your mailbox. This results in the following combinations: unimportant and not urgent (these messages will be deleted or archived), unimportant but urgent (you forward these messages if possible), not urgent but important (for these messages you can specify a later point in time when you answer these, firmly) as well as important and urgent (these messages will be processed immediately).

  • Don't answer right away.

    The idea that you should reply to emails as quickly as possible is widespread. But with this you make yourself a slave to your mailbox. The work is interrupted again and again to answer. It is not uncommon for e-mail communication to be similar to instant messaging. But anyone who sends an email should not expect an immediate response. If you need this, you'd better pick up the phone and call. Keep that in mind and implement this principle consistently. It is completely sufficient if you answer an e-mail within 24 hours.

  • Empty your inbox at the end of the day.

    If possible, do not carry old messages into the following day. Because more messages are added the next day and so the number of emails grows from day to day. At some point it becomes impossible for you to edit all of them. Because of this, your goal should be to have an empty mailbox at the end of the day, too Zero inbox principle called. While this requires some discipline, it will prevent you from being overwhelmed by the flood of emails.

  • Send fewer emails yourself.

    That sounds like a simple tip, but it is only in the implementation that you realize how difficult it can be. An e-mail is sent quickly and so many people no longer think about whether it is the right medium. But that is exactly what is fatal, because e-mails are sent where it would have been better to call. Break this cycle.

This is how you interpret the “body language” in e-mails

  • Written as spoken. People who text emails or comments freely are mostly open, sociable types who don't mince their words. Usually these are down-to-earth pragmatists who think what they say and write what they think. The guy is always available for an open word.
  • As precise as a parlando. The words polished, the grammar flawless, the sentences short without a hint of emotions ... Warning! A control freak communicates here. Perfectionism is his claim, objectivity is his attitude. But behind this there is also uncertainty and the fear of making mistakes. The guy seldom tolerates criticism.
  • Judging like washerwomen. Be careful when someone ventilates excessively many adjectives! These enhance, but mostly devalue, and reveal great emotionality, but little sovereignty and empathy. Often times, this guy is unaware (or does not care) how his words are received. You can't argue with someone like that, just argue. Or rather be silent about it.

PS: The perfect email that will also be answered

Is there actually a trick to do it Email is answered? Yes there is!

If you believe an investigation for that, according to the magazine The Atlantic around 5.3 million messages have been evaluated, should be the perfect e-mail neutral in tone be. So not too positive or negative. The sentences in it should be short Language of a third grader correspond. The probability of an answer rises to 53 percent.

If, on the other hand, the author sounds like an academic, the figure is only 39 percent.

And the mail has to be short: between 75 and 100 words. Answer probability: 51 percent. Maximum.

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December 20, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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