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March 1, 2013

TGIF: Salutations and Signoffs

by: in: Crenshaw Communications, PR Fish Bowl, public relations

While it seems like just a simple hello or good-bye, email salutations say something about you and your company. And given that they constitute your first and last digital impression, they should not be taken for granted, dismissed or trivialized.

So what is the right way to begin or end a simple business correspondence in the digital age?

Salutation

In the rush to move business along, don’t forget the greeting; you can come off as rude or brusque otherwise. And if you wouldn’t say, “Hey there” to your boss or client, don’t do it in your email. We like a simple “Hi, Mary,” or an old fashioned “Dear Jeff.” For a more professional approach to a group, “Good morning,” or “Greetings” can help strike the balance between too colloquial and too formal.

In my experience, there’s not usually a need to keep adding the greeting if you’re in an email conversation, but circumstances vary. In a negotiation or sensitive conversation where you’re trying to reach agreement, a formal greeting, or a “thank you for your response” may be appropriate for each and every exchange. Cultural norms matter here also. For example, we work with a Japan-based client, and our emails to them reflect a higher degree of formality than with other client partners.

Good-bye

Some people put a signoff in their email signature to save time. This is fine, yet it can be inappropriate to the circumstances (ever get an argumentative note with “Best wishes” embedded in the sig?) Generally, it’s safe to go with “Regards” or “Sincerely.” Although “Cheers” is trendy, and the phrase “XO” has emerged as an “ingenious adaptation to that pressure not to be too bossy, too assertive,” according to Marketplace, try to avoid sounding too casual or flip when closing an email. And, while unique, avoid signatures that are too whimsical, like, “After all is said and done, more is said than done” or “It’s been swell, but the swelling’s gone down.” (Yes, these are actual signoffs.)

Have any creative ways to tie up professional conversations? Then leave them in the comments sections below.

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