What Your Email Sign-Off Says About You
Do you have a standard email sign-off you use like “Thanks,” “Cheers,” or “Best”? Do you change your sign-offs for business emails? I tend to stick with the ol’ XOXO or my first initial (or both) in my personal emails with close friends and use “Thanks” or very occasionally “Cheers” in my business emails. I almost always use “Love” as a sign-off when emailing with my mom, because that’s the sign-off she uses and I like to let her know it’s reciprocated (we aren’t big on saying the “L” word out loud in my family, so it’s nice to sneak it in in an email). And when I email with Dear Wendy letter writers, I use “All the best” as a sign-off because I really do wish them the best. The New York Times published an article recently about email sign-offs — the anxiety they can cause for people and the messages they often send. For example, signing off with “XOXO” might give the wrong message to a co-worker. Thank God I read the Times or I may never have realized this. What other messages might you be sending in your email sign-off?
Earlier this year, Web Worker Daily broke down some of the other hidden messages behind common email sign-offs. This is their verdict:
“Cheers” — Signing off with “Cheers” implies, “I’m casual, yet professional.” We could share beers at the bar, or we could do an angel VC deal. Or both. “Cheers” is designed to command a certain amount of respect while still maintaining a level of approachability.
“Thanks” — Closing with “Thanks” says, “Just do what I’ve asked in the body of this e-mail, and let’s leave it at that.” Even though that might not be the writer’s intention, it can come across as patronizing. However, “Thanks” can, and should, be used in the early stages of an email relationship. It’s safe, it’s no-nonsense, and it rarely lends itself to interpretation. When in doubt, “Thanks,” in all its blandness, simply works.
“Best” — Signing off with “Best” basically means, “I wish good things for you.” Ultimately, “Best” says that the sender’s professional-personal ratio is at about 9-to-1: the sender wants to keep things proper, while showing a little personal attention.
“Take Care” — The sender is striving for more verbal, personal communication. When used in the right situation, this type of closing can work well because it increases the friendliness of the email.
Nothing at all (or just an initial) — May imply that you’re on the run, which can be perceived as good or bad: Good because you’re quick to reply no matter where you are; bad because you’re always somewhere doing something else. The “no closing/initials instead” approach may show that you’re not one to waste time and that you want to set the tone for the entire communication sequence.
So, what do you think? Do these adequately describe you? And since the article didn’t mention “XOXO,” I say we decide what its “hidden message” is. Suggestions? [via New York Times and Web Worker Daily]