The year 2011 is about to come to an end and many of us would soon be itching to send out New Year best wishes mail to our friends,relatives, colleagues, etc.
It remains a sad fact of life as a social animal that every encounter with another human being presents an opportunity for being misunderstood. This is why social events are awkward, as are greetings of any kind, hugs in general, mouth kissing, questions over coffee vs drinks – and email sign-offs.
Have you ever reached the end of a mail and wondered, how the hell do I end this thing? Even David Cameron got confused, thinking that LOL meant Lots of Love until it was pointed to him that he had got it, um, wrong.
One ending is not equally suitable for all mails, and there are so many choices. These include, but are not limited to:
Kind regards. The standard I rely on for business correspondence. Polite, but a way of indicating lack of anything beyond friendship and therefore rather passive aggressive. Kind regards actually means “I don’t know you from Adam but I’ll pretend I care”. Some people like to live on the edge and use “warm regards” instead. Closely related to kind regards is
Regards. Also a useful catch-all suitable for most purposes, but with one important caveat: I don’t know about you, but if I receive mail from someone I know, and it’s signed off “Kind regards”, “Regards” or any variation on the above, I feel rather affronted. I would never use any of these for colleagues or clients who happen to be friends.
Best wishes. I seldom use this one, and never really know what to make of it. It seems slightly less formal than any of the variations of regards.
All the best sounds strangely apologetic, as though you’re waving goodbye to an intrepid war reporter who’s off on a dangerous mission to the Hindu Kush, one from which he’s unlikely to return.
Best etc. My thesis supervisor used to use this in mails. There’s a rather appealingly Waspish avoidance of emotion in this one, though liable to be interpreted as somewhat perfunctory.
Thanks so much. One I use often, either as a way to sound polite or grateful or both. I often use it when I’m asking for something but don’t want to come across as rude, as in “Dear So-and-so, How is the project going? It’s been a while since I’ve had an update. Please let me know what’s happening. Thanks so much, Sarah.” This is code for: “Dear so-and-so, why the hell haven’t I heard anything? Please consider this a kick up the backside. I am royally peeved, Sarah.”
Thanks. Less strenuous version of “thanks so much”. If I’m asking for something, and there’s been a bit of back and forth, this is what I use.
Ciao, Cheerio. I rely on these for relatively informal communication with people with whom I’m on friendly terms. Jaunty, but (hopefully) not overfamiliar.
Have a wonderful day/evening/week/weekend. This is me trying to be vaguely original and mildly nice and probably failing miserably.
Then we get to the people I know well. The funny thing is, the better I know you, the less likely I am to bother with either greetings or goodbyes. For people I am close to, I dispense with sign-offs altogether. This then brings in the question of whether to end a piece of written communication with Sarah or S and
That, of course, is a minefield of potential misunderstandings in its own right. At what point, for example, does one cross the threshold between xx and xxx? And what happens if I err on the side of enthusiasm? I honestly don’t know, and probably never will.
Thank you for reading this.
Have a wonderful week,
PS I was intending to be the zillionth blogger to upload something about the Spear of the Nation. But I’m not sure I can add anything useful or interesting to the debate, so I’m sticking to the shallow and unimportant escapist stuff instead.
Tags: awkward email signoffs, best wishes, David Cameron, email etiquette, kind regards, LOL
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Hello, Loob!I do use "Best wishes" as a sign-off on occasion, but I wouldn't use it in your context, Emp - it somehow falls between two stools. It's not formal enough for a boss, and it's too much of a stock phrase to use with a good friend.*
I would vote for GWB's solution: just finish with "Thank you".
(*That's also a personal view, of course.)
Okay, so I understand this would not look impolite, would it, if you were my boss? -Hi kayve
As I said, I would finish with the previous word in Emp's draft: "Thank you". I don't use any formulaic expressions to sign off business emails: not Regards, not Yours sincerely, just my name.
Yes, thanks, this a smart approach I think.If you are replying to someone, finish with whatever form they finished with.
How do you manage to handle this?Not with Indian egoistic bosses. They will ask you to use more respectful/submission-showing subscription than they use.
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With my best wishes,
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I guess it's an abbreviation of “Best wishes”. Apparently, I don't have that extra second to spare for the full version – or maybe I just don't want to.
Following traditional etiquette, if there is ‘dear sir’ or ‘dear madam’ at the top of your letter or email, then you should sign off with ‘yours faithfully’ or ‘yours truly.’
We know that the custom of signing off with ‘yours’ dates back to at least the 15th century, by studying letters from the Paston family that survive to this day. In a letter from 1426, William Paston signed off with ‘your man’.
If your letter is addressed to a specific person, whose name you can put in writing, then you should sign off with ‘yours sincerely.’
If you want to tell the recipient that you’re busy, without wasting time putting it into words, then signing off ‘v best’ is one option – it demonstrates that you’re too short of time to even type ‘very’ out in full. As Michael Rosen points out, however, predictive text doesn’t like ‘v best’ and will convert it to ‘vest’. Rather than seeming busy, the sender can come across as obsessed with thermal wear.
I've never seen that phrase used, so may be better to look up common closings for letters. For example, depending on the audience there is.