Writing an email is not as easy as it looks especially when you are writing to a person you hardly even know. Most people care about how you address them. If you make a mistake, that person will refuse to read your email and will have a bad opinion of you. What you write reflect you. Here are a list of greetings and salutations, and why you should avoid them:
- “Hey!” This greeting is definitely not professional. Most probably, you do not know the person you are emailing, but you are making it sound that you do. You should avoid this greeting when you are at work.
- “Hello,” is not bad, but a little informal especially when you do not know the person.
- “Yo!” Are you kidding? This one is a big no! No further explanation needed.
- “Greetings! ” This is another way of saying “Hi!” if you do not know the person’s name, but it is better to find out the person’s name.
- “To whom it may concern, ” is acceptable but the other person might just think, well, this does not concern me, so why would I bother reading it? Know the person’s name and instead write, for example, Mr. Ford.
- “Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [first name], ” is not appropriate in the professional world as it is like a child asking their teacher, “Mrs. Kate can you….”
- “Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [last name], ” is not bad to use but it come off as formal and old-fashion. It also feels you are about to be reprimanded.
- “Dear friend, ” means you are not really a friends with this person. Because if you are, you would not have used this greeting, and would have used the person’s name instead.
- “Dear [Job Title], ” Just like “To whom it may concern”, it is generic. Find out the person’s name. Go the extra mile.
- “Dear Ma’am, ” is generic and impersonal. The greeting gives the feel of being old and disrespected.
- “Dear Sir or Madam” is too formal and it sounds like bad news followed by a complaint.
- “ [Insert first name]! ” This is way too abrupt and annoying especially when there is an exclamation point after. It’s like someone is shouting your name out loud. It is better to say for example, “Hi, Jane.” or “Hi, Mrs. Brown.”
- “Good morning/afternoon/evening” has to be skipped. You do not know the time of day the recipient will read his/her email. Take into consideration the different time zones.
- “[misspelled name]!” is such a big no-no! Make sure you know the person’s name and how to spell it correctly. This is insulting for most people. Check their email addresses. Most of time, the name is reflected there.
- “Gentlemen” is okay if you are really sure that the recipients are all male. What if there is a female, then this salutation is not appropriate. You can simply say, “Hi, everyone.”
- “All, ” is too abrupt. If you are addressing a group, you can always use, “Hi, everyone.”
- “Hi (nickname), ” should not be used unless the person introduced themselves to you using their nicknames. Do not assume that a William is a Will or a Willy. If you are not too sure, it is safe to use their full name.
Whether you know a person or not, the safest way to address someone is to use “ Hi [Insert first name], ”. If you need more tips on online etiquette, you can check out this article. You can also read more about email etiquette.