by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Whether you are the CEO of a FTSE100 organisation or the postroom manager of an SME, chances are you receive (and send) umpteen numbers of emails every day. Just as equal are the number of different sign offs you may see, ranging from ‘Regards’ and ‘Best’ to ‘Thanks’ and all manner of those wee little emoji’s that have somehow found their way from mobile phone to computer.
But this is all wrong, so very very wrong (soap box moment coming up).
Some time ago Bloomberg published a story on email etiquette and I was asked by The Independent, The Telegraph, The Guardian and Cosmopolitan magazine for my thoughts on the subject in addition to being interviewed on BBC Radio 5Live among others – using both my PR and careers specialist hats on. This is clearly a subject matter of interest to a lot of people and one that created something of a reaction on social media when it was published.
The article in The Telegraph for instance was the most read online for two days that week and was shared 415 times on LinkedIn, 842 on Facebook and 154 times on Twitter, receiving 268 comments. The same piece in The Guardian was shared 463 times and received 346 comments: Clearly this is something that many people have an opinion on and the lack of standardised email etiquette leaves emailers none the wiser to what is the right and wrong way to sign off.
Speaking with the above media, I denounced the succinct, timeless email signoff as being “vulgar and lazy”. It is. The now omnipresent use of ‘Best’ reflects our tendency and the increased popularisation of so-called ‘text-speak’ and treating email like instant messaging which by default is having the effect of diluting and, arguably, dumbing down the language we use.
The tone we see used in emails today is more relaxed than it once was. Ten years ago, for instance, few (if any) emails would end with ‘BW” (‘Best wishes’) or “KR” (‘Kind regards’), yet these are widely used today and have the effect of negatively impacting on your personal brand and that of the recruitment firm you represent.
‘Best’ in particular has seen a rise in use over the last few years, but ‘best’ what?’ It hangs in the air leaving the recipient waiting with bated breath as to what is to come? Some people leave off any closing noun altogether – no goodbye, see ya, nothing at all.
So if ‘Yours’ is lazy, as is a simple ‘thanks’, and ‘Best’ is bordering on high treason, what should we be using?
The Guardian suggested that my assertion of emails being “vulgar and lazy” is a tad extreme, questioning Does anyone really care anyway? The answer is Yes, they do. The Stylist magazine suggests that its best to sign off your email with nothing at all…really? Given the 1,583 respondants who commented on the article it would seem most of their readers disagree.
Your email should match the tone of the person you are speaking with and the nature of the ‘conversation’ you are having and business relationship you have. ‘Enjoy the rest of the week’, ‘Speak soon’, ‘Thanks once again’, or if you want to stay on the formal side the classic ‘Yours sincerely’ still works. As for me, I err towards ‘Many thanks’.