Email clangers

17 Jan

A discussion about email etiquette on the radio recently made me realise that I am unintentionally committing social suicide almost every time I send an email.

Apparently I am achieving the electronic equivalent of writing my messages on parchment with a quill pen by beginning my emails with “Dear xxx” or “Dear Mr/Ms xxx”. I do this a lot at work – almost always when I’m writing (or replying) to someone I don’t know. I thought it was warm, yet professional.

Old fashioned! proclaimed the experts on Radio 4. And they should know – one of them once wrote an entire novel in email format. Which I imagine at some point was an original idea. The other, I think, was a general etiquette professional, possibly from some ivory towered finishing school/drama academy.

People I do know get a more informal “hi” before their first name when I send them an email, which is apparently better and more importantly not as dreadful as the mother of all insults “hey”.

Fortunately I save this cardinal sin for my friends. Expert verdict was that “hey” is both attention seeking and demanding – one may as well begin “oi” said the one who wrote the novel. The finishing school chap agreed.

Apologies to all my friends.

At least they get kisses at the end. By signing off “kind regards”, another favourite of mine, I may as well write “Edwardian” on my passport under nationality. “Best wishes” is deemed acceptable but woe betide anyone who shortens it to “BW” or, god help them, “Best”.

The novel writer practically threw up live on air when the drama chap suggested “best”. He said it in the same sort of tone one might use to describe a gruesome disease or vomit-inducing smell.

It’s a total minefield. Sadly I arived at work before Mr Finishing School and Ms Paperback had got on to the thorny subject of how one should address emails to things like Freecycle groups and community newsletters.

I have a sofa which I’m desperate to get rid of but I’m paralysed with fear that I will inadvertently tell my fellow thrift-seekers to bugger off before I’ve even introduced myself.


4 Responses to “Email clangers”

  1. Phil Edwards January 17, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    I always use “Yo”. That gets their attention. Sofa for sale or not.

  2. zskdorset January 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    hmm wonder what the experts would have to say about that? they liked “hi” so you might be OK… perhaps i should use that at work instead.

  3. Becky Wicks January 31, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    Shit I use Hey all the time, only usually it’s in a more friendly, if a little shouty way, like Heeeeeeeey!!!!!!!!
    I applied for a job using Hi Andrew the other day and got an interview, so it can’t be all bad, though it wasn’t for a serious job, like a doctor or anything, so maybe he let me off. Hmmm. It’s definitely a minefield.

  4. zskdorset February 6, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    HEY! I like it 🙂 the one thing I *really* hate is when people email me “dear sir”. How many male journalists called Zoe so you know?! Admittedly they are usually grumpy emails a la letters to the editor so it kinda helps that they don’t make sense from the get-go…

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