Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 at 1:32 pm by Diamond Jim
From Lynn Gaertner-Johnston at the Business Writing Blog:
Hey, Everybody! Today Kirk wrote with a question many people wonder about:
I have a senior employee who begins every email with "Hey," and it bothers me. Every email starts with "Hey Everyone" or "Hey guys" or "Hey Kirk." It seems friendly, but slightly unprofessional, especially when the emails are sent to top management. It seems to me that using "Hey" is okay in some cases such as "Hey guys--let's go to lunch Friday." But it's not okay when you write professional or technical business emails, especially to your superiors or those who don't know you personally.
Hey, what do you think?
I agree with Kirk. "Hey" is okay as a very informal greeting. When someone writes, "Hey, Lynn," I expect it to be a close friend. But "Hey" is not a greeting for anything, but the most informal exchange.
The question then is this: What is an appropriate greeting?
I recommend these:
Hi, Kirk. Hi, Team. (friendly, slightly informal)
Hello, Kirk. Hello, HR Group. (professional)
Dear Kirk, Dear Team Members, (professional, formal)
Dear Kirk: Dear Team Members: (professional, more formal)
Greetings, Kirk. Greetings, Finance Team. (professional)
Kirk, I am writing to . . . . Team members, I am writing to . . . . (professional)
Some people also like "Good morning" and "Good afternoon." But since we can't know when someone will read our message, I usually avoid a greeting that refers to the time of day.
The other day someone told me she hates it when employees at her bank say: "I'll go grab so-and-so for you." She hates the word grab used for people. Similarly, some people will dislike "Hey," which may seem like they are being yelled at.
I have written more about greetings in letters and email. Try here.
Hey, Kirk. Thanks for your question.
And from our friends in England:
Introducing an e-mail is a lot like arriving at a party, she says. "Better to be overdressed. You can always take off the pearls."
As e-mail greetings go, "Hey folks" sure isn't pearls.
"Hey" sounds more like the brash, surfy American cousin of "hi". But is it really Bermuda shorts and bare feet?
That all depends on the recipient, says Anna Post, spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute, which is based in Vermont and provides etiquette experts and advice to corporations in the US.
"'Hey' is a funny one. I never used to have a problem with it," she says. "Until I met the CEO of a young, hip company, who said she hated it. She said it sounds like a sharp jab. 'Hey!' Whereas to me, 'Hey' sounds jaunty and uplifting."
And since we have no control over our e-mail recipient's perception, greetings like "Hey" are not worth the risk in business, she adds.
But if introductions are a dilemma, sign-offs are a social networking minefield.
The trouble with sign-offs is you have so many options, says Anna Post. "It's the hottest question I get asked at my business communication classes. If it's business, I would stick to 'regards', 'kind regards' or 'best'.
The trick with sign-offs is to choose a phrase that's almost invisible, she says, because if the phrase looks odd "then people are no longer thinking about the content of your message", says Anna Post.