An email represents a very stripped down form of communication as physical cues and voice inflection are absent. Because of this, starting and ending an email in the right tone is key. If you open an email to a possible client with “Hey Joe,” it may come off as too informal, where as if you close an email to a close friend with “In highest regards,” they may think you’re being cynical. Here are some tips to consider in order to avoid giving the wrong impression.
Starting an Email
When composing an email to a close friend or friendly acquaintance, strongly contemplating propriety is not a necessity. This person knows you, so simply opening your message with their name or a short “Hi” followed by their name should do the trick.
Composing an email to someone you don’t know well or who is above you in any social hierarchy can be more challenging. Opening the email with the classic “Dear” and then recipient’s name is always a sure shot. However, feel free to communicate subtle flair with a “Good Afternoon,” or “Good Evening,” depending on the time of day. This expresses respect without being overly ritualistic.
When writing to an unknown institution of high importance, make sure and write in a respectful tone. Opening your letter with “To whom it may concern,” will let the audience know you hold them in high regard.
Closing an Email
As in the opening, if you are closing an email to close friend, merely signing your name or adding, “Love,” can be an acceptable ending. You can also add “Thanks,” depending on the context of the email.
In writing a closing to an individual whom you wish to pay respect, signing off with “sincerely” or “yours truly” is a fine way of demonstrating regard. While these aren’t of the highest formality, they do communicate a certain level of propriety.
Ending an email to a more respected recipient can be challenging, as it is the last impression of your communication that they receive. Depending on the source, using “sincerely” is still acceptable. However, a more formal ending such as “with warm regards” or even just “regards” may be the more professional route to take.
Though most of these tips may appear as common knowledge, it’s crucial to determine the nature of your email, the relationship you share with the receiver and message you want to communicate when composing an email. Remembering to choose your words wisely will ensure that your boss has no fear of romantic inclinations while also confirming to your friends that you aren’t a robot.