Is your ‘Best’ really good enough?
Since I can remember getting emails, circa AOL dial-up era, my dad has used the same sign-off. ‘Thanx.’ On a road trip from New York to Maryland, I asked him about it. He said that email was so new and futuristic that he wanted a ‘thanks’ that matched that, hence the x.
Now, his ‘Thanx’ is a kind of throwback. To me, it’s personal. It brings back memories of really slow internet. Lengthy emails about college financing. It’s his signature signature.
But in a world of millions of emails from people you haven’t been road tripping with since the 90s, can you really have one sign-off that fits all?
There are plenty of people who think it’s time to say nothing at all, as Rebecca Greenfield recently suggested in Bloomberg Businessweek. She said, ‘sign-offs interrupt the flow of a conversation, anyway, and that’s what email is.’ I agree that not signing off can sometimes be the best option, like when there’s lots of back and forth in an email thread.
But conversations do end, unless you’re stuck with a broken record type (good luck there). Imagine if we ended a conversation with a friend or colleague and walked away without so much as a peace sign. Awkward.
What about when you’re sending a proposal to a prospective client? A one-off message to a far-away colleague? In the recent semantics war against ‘Best’ and other one-size-fits-all sign-offs (see here and here), what’s the way to go if everything is too boring, too impersonal, too lazy?
I say don’t be scared to mix and match. Pairing the context and tone of your email with your sign-off is both thoughtful and professional.
Think about what you’re saying and who it’s going to. Maybe you know them well, or maybe there’s a chance your email will end up in a black hole. Either way, don’t be a ‘Best-er’ who can’t come up with something better. Sign-off, and mean it. It’ll prove you’re not controlled by robots, at least.
To the future,
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