April 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
Do you have a standard sign-off for emails or do you vary it for each recipient?
I would guess that most of us throw out rules if we’re emailing friends or clients we know well but try to rely on a standard sign-off for anybody who falls into a more formal group. But thinking about it the other day, I realised I couldn’t be happy with mine because I’m always finding reason to fiddle with it.
What I mean by that is that I’ll write the email in a way that Many thanks makes sense as a finishing phrase or Speak soon because both of those seem friendlier than many of the alternatives. I’ll take you through them as I see them:
Very best wishes – I used to like ending with this but it so often sounds too overly sincere (and a bit dramatic, my brother would tell me) to someone I’ve spoken to only once;
Best wishes – that’s alright but a bit stiff however before anyone says anything, yes, I know I use this quite a bit;
Best – manly (I can’t really explain why I’m giving it a gender but I said this was how I saw it);
All the best – old-fashioned and somehow too ‘old’ to be coming from someone of my age;
Kind regards – faultless but I’m not sure it’s ‘me’ if you know what I mean;
Warm regards – twee;
Regards – to the point. I feel fine when I receive a ‘regards’ but signing off with one doesn’t come naturally;
Sincerely – not right for an email, not right for anything anymore – too formal;
Yours – same problem as ‘Sincerely’, just wrong;
Sincerely yours – twice the problem of ‘Sincerely’ and ‘Yours’;
Take care – I like this, both for friends and for clients I know well. It’s not too overly personal but it’s friendly and I can imagine saying it at the end of a meeting which I think is a good test of a good sign-off;
Love – I write that on birthday cards (because I love the person I’m sending them to. The same can’t be said for all email recipients so it’s definitely not right.)
Name only – sometimes I might sign off with just my name, particularly if we’re having an ’email conversation’. Wishes of any kind start to make the messages look clumsy. Otherwise it looks lazy unless, of course, you know the recipient very well;
Initial only – rude;
Cheers – we’re doing business, not buying a round;
Smiley – absolutely no;
See you soon – you probably won’t, will you, so as a generic sign-off that can’t be appropriate;
Thanks for getting in touch – I like that;
Thanks so much for getting in touch – too needy;
Many thanks – a favourite but you’ve got to have something to thank the recipient for otherwise it doesn’t make sense. That’s why this blog started out with me saying I rewrite emails in order to be able to use this sign-off;
Speak soon – I also like this. If you’re emailing a client you know well you probably will speak soon. If you don’t know the client well yet, the sign-off reinforces the fact that you’re opening channels of communication.
So having run through many of the usual suspects I still haven’t found a sign-off I feel totally comfortable with. Something you might say at the end of a meeting (I’ve reconsidered) goes towards deciding your ideal sign-off but it’s not a standalone decider, is it, because nine out of 10 times you haven’t met the person at the receiving end of the email so the relationship is different.
Which means that even after giving the issue some proper thought I haven’t got anywhere with it (I know that for sure because I’ve answered a few emails as I’ve been typing.) Any suggestions will be gratefully received. There will be some (I know their names!) who will say I’m over-thinking the issue. I don’t agree. Every piece of communication goes towards your professional reputation and the way you close an email could be seen as smooth or awkward and that matters very much indeed.
What do you think?