“Hey” is for horses—or is it?
I remember my first boss was dead-set against using “hey” as a greeting—in email correspondence and otherwise. She felt it was unprofessional and extremely off-putting. While not everyone feels exactly like that—”hey” greetings actually have the highest open rate
— it’s always best to use a professional tone in important business-specific emails.
Not every email is the same. Some emails are addressed to your friends, your mom, a giant bachelorette party, or your CEO.
We thought it would be fun to put together a list of some greetings you can use in emails, some you shouldn’t, and some you really shouldn’t—no matter to whom they are being sent.
Before we start (a disclaimer)
With email, we have it pretty easy. We no longer have to format complicated letters with margins, addresses, return addresses, and formal titles. Often enough, all we have to do is attach a greeting to a name.
Here’s my very obvious pro tip. Spell that name correctly. If the recipient has a complicated name, use your copy and paste (CTRL + C, CTRL + V) There is basically no excuse for misspelling a name via email—that’s downright lazy. A misspelled name communicates that you don’t care enough to take a few seconds.
Ok, there’s our rant. Let’s dive in!
When you’re keeping it professional
When you’re emailing a new business colleague, a possible client, or anyone else at a professional capacity, keep it simple and straightforward. You will have plenty of opportunities to showcase your sparkling personality as your professional relationship grows. For now, keep everything SFW, using more standard greetings.
Dear [correctly-spelled name]
When it’s casual (but still professional)
When you’re emailing your work wife or a friend-adjacent co-worker, you may have a little more fun with your greetings. No, this is not the time to greet with the Budweiser “Wassup?” but it is a good time to use an exclamation point—and maybe even an emoji?
Why, hello there!
When you’re addressing a professional group
When you’re emailing a group on a thread, there are a few salutation options. You may address each person by name—but if you find yourself on a thread with 12 other people, that might not be feasible. For those situations, you a friendly “Hello all” or “Hello folks!”
Veer away from using gendered language when addressing a group of professional associates. While the word “guys” or “dudes” may seem harmless to you, it can come across as unprofessional or downright offensive.
Dear [name], [name], and [name]
When you’re feeling silly
Top of the mornin’ to ya!
What not to do (or think hard about before you do)
To play it safe, don’t use any of these at work. Most of them are unprofessional, annoying, or antiquated (see: To Whom it May Concern.) Nicknames are okay to us if you have a personal relationship with the person you are emailing—or if they use the nickname on their correspondence.
Any greeting wherein you are pressing one letter to show your excitement (see: Hiiiiiiiiii) is—what’s a nice word for juvenile?
To Whom it May Concern
Dear Sir or Madam
Aloha, Hola, Bonjour, etc
This article originally appeared on Career Contessa.
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