Which Email Pulled Best?

BlogHer Original Post

It is so off-putting to realize that a major business bruhaha has been brewing and you were blissfully unaware.

So it is with the great email sign-off controversy. Seems that over Thanksgiving Weekend the NYT ran an article called Yours Truly,Email Variations. The gist of the article is that the email sign-off is a landmine.

Much of the focus of the article and the subsequent blog posts centers on BEST...seems that BEST is a popular signoff but offensive.

When Kim Bondy, a former CNN executive, e-mailed a suitor after a dinner date, she used one of her preferred closings: “Chat soon.” It was her way of saying, “The date went well, let’s do it again,” she said.

She may have been the only one who thought that. The return message closed with the dreaded “Best.” It left her feeling as though she had misread the evening. “I felt like, ‘Oh, that’s kind of formal. I don’t think he liked me,’ ” she said, laughing. “A chill came with the ‘Best.’ ” They have not gone out since.

“Best” does have its fans, especially in the workplace, where it can be an all-purpose step up in warmth from messages that end with no sign-off at all, just the sender coolly appending his or her name.

“I use ‘Best’ for all of my professional e-mails,” said Kelly Brady, a perky publicist in New York. “It’s friendly, quick and to the point.”

Because people read so much into a sign-off, said Richard Kirshenbaum, chief creative officer of the advertising firm Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, he has thought deeply about his preferred closing to professional correspondence, “Warmly, RK.” He did not want something too emotional, like “Love,” or too formal, like “Sincerely.” “ ‘Warmly’ fell comfortably in between,” he said. “I want to convey a sense of warmth and passion, but also be appropriate.”

Many many years ago I was having dinner with friends in L.A. and we were discussing something about Hispanic marketing.However, I didn't use the word Hispanic or Latino. I used another word that I thought was appropriate.

If you could have seen the look on my friends face when I said the word. They were aghast. I thought I was using the currently preferred word for people of Hispanic origins. It was evidently a slur.

So it is with Best. Here people thought they were being appropriate and smart and business savvy only to find they have evidently been offending people right and left.

When Jason Kottke of Kottke.org shared he often uses Best as a sign-off, he got 89 comments.

emdot says:
I love "best" and have used it forever (as an abbreviation of all the best, which I also love).

I find it kind of funny that people make judgments on other people based on the way they sign their email. Maybe it says more about the person passing judgment than the person signing the email.

Wait, was that smarmy or douchebaggy of me?

M says:
Okay, time to call the perky police...
I usually sign off with some variation of:

Have a great rest of the day,
M

or more frequently:

Have a safe and relaxing weekend,
M

Or, if I don't know the person well, I stick with:
Thanks,
M

minxlj says:
'Regards' is the easiest solution - you can of course give everyone regards, and leave 'warmest regards' for the people you mean it to. And 'kind regards' always goes down well, certainly in business emails in the UK. Anything less formal can be taken as rude here, so it's best to not be too familiar until you know the person, then 'cheers' will suffice.
» by minxlj on Dec 01, 2006 at 06:07 AM

Greta and David Munger of Cognitive Daily ran a Casual Friday Study on email sign-offs..complete with graphs. Their findings:
When in doubt, stick with Thanks.It's just right.


And,Thank You.

Image Credit: Found on Flickr member Carribeancricket's photos. It is the work of Hugh McLeod of Gapingvoid Cartoons Drawn On The Back Of Business Cards.

Elana blogs about Business Culture at FunnyBusiness. This is cross-posted.

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