Write Emails Like a Human Being



Over at Bloomberg, there’s an interesting piece about email send-offs. Specifically, the article takes issue with the use of “Best,” which it describes as “empty words.” Don’t sign off at all, the author recommends; email “has begun functioning more like instant messaging anyway.”

The Bloomberg article has sparked some minor controversy within the blogosphere. “Arguing over whether ‘yours sincerely’ is a more fitting email sign-off than ‘best wishes’ or ‘yours faithfully’ or your spirit animal as represented in emoji is like fiddling while Rome burns,” The Guardian huffed in a June 10 op-ed.

As many have pointed out over the years, acting too friendly in business communications can often come off as creepy (and it’s a recipe for disaster in job searches). On the other hand, email messages have a way of coming off as far more brusque than the sender intended; it’s often difficult to convey nuance and tone in text, especially when the text in question is simply attempting to complete a task.

With that in mind, treating email like instant messaging could boost your risk of appearing rude. Put yourself in the shoes of a relative stranger who opens your latest email to see: “Schedule appointment 10am or 10:30 don’t care.” Without so much as a “Good morning,” much less a header or footer to suggest it was sent by something other than a machine, that email comes off as more than terse: It’s positively impolite.

Nobody’s suggesting your professional emails need to engage the reader on a deep emotional level; but taking a little bit of time to craft messages like a human being, complete with a personalized sentence or two, can make your communications flow more smoothly—and even reduce the risk of misunderstandings.

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