When signing off an email there are only two apparent outcomes: getting it right, or getting it very, very, wrong.
Penning an important email is like the 21st century’s answer to jousting.
You’ve just gotta jump on your horse, run at the opposition, and hope for the best.
We’ve all been there: painstakingly tapping single key after single key, beads of sweat trickling down your face, catching your grimacing reflection in the computer screen. Writhing in your chair, wringing your hands, and desperately searching for a better phrase than ‘habitually unemployed’. Panicking because you’re taking too long (or not long enough). And then it dawns on you that the worst part is yet to come. The fundamental few words that separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls, and the Gen Y digital natives from, well, everyone else.
IT’S THE EMAIL SIGN OFF.
Warmest regards. Thanks. Best. Cheers. Yours truly. Best Wishes. All the best, Lots of love, Chat soon, Smiley face :), Kiss-hug-kiss-hug, xxx, Ciao. The options are endless but with only two apparent outcomes: getting it right, or getting it very, very, wrong.
Whether you are approaching a potential employer with your CV, signing off from a new colleague, or sending an ex-lover a large invoice containing every receipt pertaining to purchases for him during the duration of your short but tumultuous affair that YOU WANT TO BE PAID BACK FOR, GODDAMN IT – finding the right way to say ‘goodbye’ can be harder than you think.
To complicate the situation further, each and every industry has its own dust-covered spellbook containing the magical rules and codes of their specific email etiquette. Chucking a ‘xo’ or ‘:)’ onto the end of an email in the creative industries, for example, is totally kosher. Do that in the financial world however, and you will be assumed to be drunk or poaching for sex on the photocopying machine. Signing off ‘Yours sincerely’ in a corporate response on a Monday is showcasing the finest of manners, m’lady – but use it in an email to you boss on a Friday afternoon? Your attitude is becoming an issue around here, mate.
Listen: Robin Bailey in the case for stepping away from your emails, plus what is the Three Sentence Rule? (Post continues after audio.)
In turn, an unintentionally odd email sign off can achieve a myriad of strange and wonderful consequences. When she was but a middle-aged-babe in the online woods, my mother like to sign off her emails with ‘LOL, Mum.’ Although it seemed from afar that she was riding an alarmingly constant Prozac high of hysterical laughing-out-loud; she thankfully was still of sound mind…just a little confused on how to abbreviate ‘lots of love.’
A recent article in Bloomberg Business has tried to solve the age-old (well, two-decade old, at the very least) quandary of The Email Sign Off with the peculiar suggestion of, well, not signing off at all.