Email Etiquette 101: Greetings and Closings
Over the past few months, the volume of email I have to manage has grown exponentially. I actually have 3 work mailboxes – soon to be become 4 - plus there’s a bunch of mail-forwarding set up so I get pummelled by that too. As well as shredding my nerves on a daily basis, this deluge of email has forced me to think more about how best to open and close emails, based primarily on some flagrant examples of ‘what not to do’ that I’ve witnessed.
Some of the options:
In my experience, intra-business email is often prefaced by a simple ‘Hi’ but inter-business email is definitely heading that way too.
“Dear X” just seems a bit of an anachronistic opening. “Hello X” often strikes me as a touch clumsy; “Hello” even more so. Most business email now seem to start with “Hi X”.
“X”, can sound a tad curt and offhand – though it’s arguably the most common.
Closing emails brings about a similar bunch of problems.
“Best regards”, just doesn’t quite sit right, somehow, though I’m sure that’s just me as it seems to be heavily used.
“Best wishes”, sounds like a non-committal way of ending a birthday card to fairly distant relative/co-worker you couldn’t care less about. To me, it just doesn’t seem right in an email.
“Yours sincerely/ Yours faithfully” – I refer you to my earlier comments in relation to starting emails with “Dear X”! :p
“Best” seemed to reach its peak of popularity about a year ago, given the potential for saved keystrokes, but quickly dropped out of favour when everybody suddenly realised it didn’t actually mean anything. Which is obviously a problem in communication.
“Rgds” seems to pop up now and then and I guess makes sense if you're not in front of a regular querty keyboard; otherwise it seems more awkward not to type the vowels - at least to me.
I’ve always felt that no closing and just signing your name can come across as a bit curt at times, so I tend to avoid it. Oh and adding a forward slash prior to you name doesn’t really change that! ;-)
“Regards” is the standard, non-committal, business response, but it always seems to convey subtle undertones of lethargy on the part of the sender - which is probably doing them an injustice. Oh well.
“Kind regards”, is another favourite and which I used to feel was a tad sickly. That said, I’ve seen it work wonders in offsetting something in the email which might otherwise light the blue touch paper. It’s amazing what you can get away with, if you end your email with ‘Kind regards’.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that it seems to be increasingly common to use multiple closing phrases as a kind of ‘cover all the bases’ approach. A guy I’ve exchanged emails with for work over the past few months opts for “many thanks, many regards” which always catches me off-guard - particularly in bright blue times new roman font!
I recently encountered the following bit of OTT-ness, which I’ve come to think of as the ‘cheers sandwich’! ;-)
“Thanks a lot.
And talking of “cheers”, it's shown an alarming increase in popularity of late. It can come across a tad causal at times, but I suppose it’s OK for intra-business mail. Seems to becoming a tad clichéd though. :-\
For what it’s worth, I tend to use a mixture - I’m easily bored, after all - but for regular exchanges, I tend to opt for a simple “thanks”. For inter-business email, I usually go for “Regards”, or “Kind regards”, depending on how enthused I feel about the recipient/subject and whether I’m on the scrounge! ;-)
I’d be interested to discover what other learned members of the ‘sphere opt for. There’s also a free bar of Choc-Actually up for grabs, no strings attached*, for the reader whose experienced the wackiest email closing!** :-)
*If you believe that, you’ll believe anything. Choc Actually doesn’t even exist! :p
**As judged by ‘The Michael’.