Back in the olden days, those who wanted to succeed in business took lessons in business letter writing. You had to learn how to format the letter, how to set margins, how to write a proper salutation and how to sign off.
And that was Day One of letter writing school.
Of course, you had to figure out what you needed to communicate. But those lessons came on other days.
Day One was all about margins, greetings and the formal sign off.
Then came email and all the formal letter writing etiquette flew out the window with a merry LOL.
Correspondence became more casual. More conversational. Less, “To whom it may concern,” and more, “What’s up?”
Let’s agree to never using, “What’s up?” to start your work email. Stick with the person’s name and that part is done.
The more nebulous part of the work email is how to properly end one. Do you sign off with an executive-sounding, “Best regards”? A stuffy, “Sincerely”?
It is this writer’s personal opinion that only Britons and Canadians can carry off a, “Cheers!”
So, somewhere in between stiff and casual is the sweet spot where the relationship between sender and recipient is accurately acknowledged at the end of a professionally crafted email.
According to this Huffington Post article, signing off with, “Best,” will work in most emails. “Best,” or, “Best wishes,” is inconspicuous and unlikely to raise any questions.
“Sincerely,” has always been, and still is, the formal standard. It works for initial contacts like cover letters when applying for a position. It can also signify a demotion in the relationship. For example, you’ve been signing off with a cheery, “Best.” Then, you have a disagreement. “Sincerely,” says you are irritated.
If you are signing off with, “Thanks,” you may be coming off as passive-aggressive. If your email is a request, then, a “Thanks” is not required. Only say, “Thanks,” if you are actually showing gratitude – otherwise, you may not be communicating what you think you are.
Going too informal with signoffs like, “Warmly,” can seem awkward and run the risk of getting misinterpreted, especially if the relationship is strictly professional. Just don’t do it.
If the relationship, whether great or poor, is the same as it ever was, say that. Signing off with an, “As ever,” covers a multitude of relationships. It’s an all purpose phrase, so use it with confidence.
Whatever you choose as an email closer, use one. The etiquette is to close with something, especially on a new conversation. If the email is going back and forth, a closer is not as necessary. But the consensus among experts is that reaching out to someone with an email deserves your “Best wishes,” as ever.