What is an appropriate way to greet someone in an email?
I never paid any attention to how I began emails until someone complained when a subordinate used “hey” at the beginning of an email. Well, I am an avid “hey” user so I immediately became self-conscious about how I was starting emails. I definitely knew those several emails that I began with “Yo” were not going to survive this level of scrutiny so I tried on a few new styles.
I tested “good morning” or “good afternoon”. Then, I tried to write an email to someone on the west coast – they were still in the morning and I had already broken into the afternoon. What in the world to do? Do I try to anticipate when they are going to read it? What if I am sending an email late at night – assume they are reading it in the morning and say, “good morning”? It was all just too much.
Then I tried the person’s name and a comma: “Anna,”. As I wrote it, I felt it seemed a little cold to the folks I had been pummeling with “hey”s for the last six months, but I was trying to be professional - darn it. This worked until I had to send a group email. What do I do – list everyone’s name like I was writing a thank you note? Don't think so.
So, I turned to my Facebook family. The reaction was mixed. Several people worked in offices where “hey” was absolutely appropriate and used by everyone. Others’workplaces required a more rigorous level of formality. But then, my cousin came through with a brilliant suggestion. “Greetings”. Yes, “Greetings”. It’s perfect! It is appropriate for group emails, people I haven’t met, people I have met, the list goes on and on. So that is my new go-to greeting, except for when I am really mad at the one guy in research. His emails will still start with “DUDE! What was that?”
Now – how in the world to end the email?
- Until we meet again,
- As you were,
- I am typing on my phone so please excuse the typos.
- I never learned to spell, please read my email phonetically
- If I forgot whole words, just play your own game of Mad Libs.
Clearly, including your name is pretty important. I hear some college students struggle with this simple task. Some people draw a line and then put their contact information under it. Some people have an automated signature with “Thanks!”. I don’t like this. I want my thanks to be hand typed – thank you very much. What do you do for your signature?
A Warning: If it includes a picture or a moving animation, I am not sure we can be friends anymore.