Short email replies are impolite

Annoying emails - answer or ignore?

Where has it gone, the "Nettikette", we ask ourselves when we receive a harsh e-mail from a colleague. Unfriendly tones are particularly common in electronic communication. Can we influence that in a positive way? - We mean yes!

The following example is typical: Sales representative Gernot Sonntag thinks it is important to react directly to e-mails. When the secretary Sylvia van Veerth emailed an Excel table with customer data and sales to all sales representatives, Mr. Sonntag replied: “The table is of no use to me. You forgot the phone numbers. " Too bad that this is not true - only 3 out of 30 phone numbers are missing. Second, Mr. Sonntag sends his answer with "Cc" to the entire field service team, including the boss.

You can imagine how you feel as a recipient of such an e-mail. For your self-esteem and standing in the company, however, it is particularly important that you remain confident and calm right now. But that's easy to say. Do we have to put up with such insults? Why does an otherwise completely inconspicuous colleague react so disrespectfully? In order to be able to answer the question of “why”, a general comparison of electronic and printed correspondence helps.

Paper is patient, email is faster!

Nowadays, both are created on the PC. However, we skim over printed correspondence and check it - even unconsciously - more often than electronic correspondence: Once you have written and printed out a text, read it through at least once, correct any errors and print out the letter again. Then it is folded and put in an envelope. So you pick up the letter several times and keep looking at the lines. Printed correspondence also takes longer to send.

We usually only write electronic correspondence once. Hardly anyone prints out their emails or even saves a first version so that they can be finished later, right? If at all, we scan our typed messages on the screen and then click on "Send". A short time later, the message has arrived at the recipient, and there it is also briefly overflown. So all in all, email is a fast moving thing? - Not for our brain!

What is "Netiquette"?
The term is an artificial word made up of the words "Net" and "Etiquette" and describes a collection of rules of conduct within the entire online area - from e-mail correspondence to forums and platforms on the Internet. However, these rules of conduct are not specified, only recommendations. In the German-speaking world, the simplified spelling “Nettikette” is also used.

Problem case (s) email

It is precisely because they are so fast that e-mails are the most popular means of communication alongside the telephone - both within a company and between suppliers and customers. With your help, we clarify matters quickly and unbureaucratically, arrange appointments and regulate urgent matters. So much for strength. The weakness also lies in the speed: We skim e-mail messages quickly, but the content - just like that of a letter - remains in the memory longer. Whether it is a letter or an e-mail, we perceive a typed “That’s no use to me!” As an insult rather than a spoken one.

1. Tips for shipping

Written quickly, rarely checked and sent far too quickly ... Sometimes we want a "return button" that undoes what has been sent, but unfortunately there is no such thing. So what can we do?

  • Always write the way you would like to be written to yourself.
  • Always write a salutation and a greeting.
  • It is better to add a “please” or “thank you” too much rather than too little.
  • Explain a request or comment, especially if criticism comes into play.
  • Only send an e-mail with "Cc" to everyone if it affects everyone, not if there is criticism! Personal matters or matters that only concern one person will only be sent to this address.
  • Always read the entire text before you click "Send".

No matter how well you know the recipient, always treat them with respect in an email. After all, he can only tell from the text how your statement is meant. Facial expressions and gestures for support are missing. An informal "hello" is allowed, an answer without a salutation is not. Copies to a larger group can quickly be perceived as insulting "sniffing".

Mr. Sonntag would have better either asked by phone or answered a little longer with: "Could you please give me the phone numbers of XY?"

2. Tips on receiving

In addition to the problem of “sending” there is the problem of “receiving”, because our brain stores the content of an e-mail message in the same way as that of a paper letter: sustainably. We perceive even neutral statements as an insult or a forgotten “please” and “thank you” as rudeness. So how should we answer?

  • Stay away from the keyboard! Never answer directly.
  • First read the email completely.
  • Then check a possible accusation: does the broadcaster mean you or is he “just” drawing attention to something?
  • Answer or ignore? Weigh up what is more useful to you and what is less harmful.
  • By email or in person / by phone? Sometimes one phone call is more effective than another email.
  • If you answer, then calmly, in a friendly tone. You can exaggerate the latter.
  • If the email was sent to everyone, reply to everyone (with "Cc" and in the address)!

In our example, a reaction from Ms. van Veerth could be as follows:

Dear Mr. Sonntag,
thank you for telling us all of the missing phone numbers for three employees. They are not included because I do not have them yet. Perhaps one or the other of you could ask about it on one of your next visits? That would be great.

Sylvia van Veerth

Verbal insults

The situation is very different in the case of a personal attack. You should never answer here because you would only lose. It is best to ignore such emails. If you receive such messages more often, they fall under the category of “bullying” as “spam”. It is therefore best to show this to your manager and / or the HR department.

The author Manuela Krämer, M. A., (federkunst- is an author and copywriter.