Friday, January 6, 2012

Salutations & Sign-offs in an Email World

One thing that can be awkward, distracting and eat up valuable time is trying to determine how to address someone you've never contacted before. In the business world 'tis better to err on the formal side, but email seems such a casual communication form, so what to do?

I get a lot of emails personally addressed to me from people I don't know, generally writers who are submitting their stories for editorial consideration at LITnIMAGE. I'll often get "Dear Mr. Goity," but sometimes I'll get a "Hey Roland" from someone who's probably never donned a suit and tie. At the end of their notes the first will add something like "Most Sincerely," while the latter may write "Peace Out."

Me? I've evolved/devolved over the years to something right down the middle. Typically, I'll write Dear First Name, although on rare occasion I'll use the surname instead. It's the way I prefer to be addressed, a "do unto others" philosophy I generally like to follow. That way, whomever I'm corresponding with will address me informally right from the get-go, and there won't be any stiffness to our correspondence longer than there needs to be. And for a sign-off? I've gone from Sincerely to Best Regards to Best to my never favorite: Cheers.

I like Cheers. I plan to use it for the foreseeable future. It feels comfortable, part of my personality. It makes me think I'm clinking glasses with a new contact and celebrating the start of a long friendship.

But each of us has our own comfort level with words, so my final advice is greet and bid adieu in whichever way feels right for you. For a while I used to sign off, Very Truly Yours. Mostly I was doing it for good luck or something, but it always felt wrong, very wrong, and just wasn't me. So to conclude I'll say simply:


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