Bloomberg Businessweek had an interesting article recently about something we rarely think about or notice – how we sign off on e-mails. E-mails started showing up in the 1990’s as a quicker and more informal option to letter writing. Originally e-mails were more like a memo and there wasn’t always a salutation or any kind of goodbye.
But today e-mails have morphed into mini-letters as texting and instant messaging have taken over the informal memo market. So we are faced with how to start e-mails and the even greater conundrum, how to end them. Businessweek lists some options based on their informal poll. What comes out the best? You guessed it. The favorite is “Best”, or maybe “All Best” or possibly “Very Best”. But Businessweek doesn’t have strong convictions here. “Best” they note, doesn’t signal much of anything and it strikes some as charmless, impersonal or abrupt. So choose your own poison from the options below.
How do I sign off? On letters I use “Cordially”. Why? I started using “Cordially” twenty years ago. As far as I can remember, I needed something quick, and “Cordially” was the least objectionable thing at the time. “Cordially” seems less effusive than “Warm Regards” or “Sincerely” while maintaining some sort of human/emotional connotation. Do I feel strongly about “Cordially”? Hardly. I had to check a recent letter to make sure exactly what I was using.
On e-mails, I sign off with “Thanx”. Kind of corny I realize, but more casual than “Thanks,” with a bit of a personal twist.
What is the bottom line for Businessweek? Their advice is that nothing works very well as a closing for e-mails. So what to go with? Go bold… go with nothing. Communication today seems to be all about speed and using as few words as possible to get the message across. When was the last time you got a hand written note that took minutes not seconds to write? So go with the flow - don’t sign off at all. No one probably reads that far down in the e-mail anyway.