Do you sometimes groan when you open an email and find it starting or finishing with a cliché that may be well-meant, but comes across as being as genuine / friendly as a cornered rat? And that’s just in your day-to-day eCorrespondence. It gets even better when it’s spam.
In this run up to the Holiday Season when we’re focusing less on hard-nosed business and more on its lighter (but nonetheless important) aspects…do you agree with the following?
Here are some of our email cliché favorites and what (we think) they really mean…
Dear Mrs XXX. Congratulations for getting the gender right but you really ought to have a chat with your MailChimp and show it how to match in last names. Leaving that field blank won’t automatically call up the BrainF*rt Fairy to magically replace XXX with the right name. Technology may be intelligent in places but it still needs humans to tell it what to do.
Dear Richard. Nothing wrong with that in itself, except that my name is Suzan. If you want to get me on your side, do your homework.
Dear Mr John Smith. Last time I checked we still aren’t far enough away from the 20th century to have totally flushed older-style etiquette down the toilet. If you want to dodge the delete key for a few more seconds, it’s either Dear John, or Dear Mr Smith. This version has “automation” written all over it.
Dear Mrs St Maur (or whoever). When followed by the person’s formal name, this is often a cue that the email is from a lawyer, accountant, or other professional who still regards electronic communications like a bit of dog poop stuck to the bottom of his/her shoe. Using the Dear salutation is their way of compromising between the safety of good old fashioned letters through the snailmail and this new-fangled way of sharing information that despite its convenience is about as trustworthy as Jack The Ripper on steroids.
Dear Friend. This one makes my heart sink because usually it means I’m about to read a long diatribe in broken English telling me about the passing of someone’s beloved who left many millions of dollars that need a bit of laundering through my bank account. It stinks of Nigerian 419 scams and their descendants which are still around after years and years … quaintly upgrading their media from snailmail to faxes to emails. ZZZzzzzz.
Hello. Can’t get more basic than that, can we? Actually this one doesn’t wind me up anything like as much as the pretentious ones do (see above.) At least no-one is trying to bullsh*t me into believing we know each other already. As long as they aren’t asking for my bank details or trying to sort out my penile erectile dysfunction, I might even read a bit further than the subject line.
I hope you are well. This one always fills me with foreboding because inevitably it means the writer is about to ask you to do something, often for nothing. Its actual meaning is probably nearer to “I hope you are well enough to do this for me.” It helps a bit if you put that after the “ask,” rather than kid the reader that you actually care about his/her health more than what you want from them.
Hi. Meh. I use Hi but not normally to someone I don’t know reasonably well. It’s a little frivolous, after all…especially in stuffy old UK.
Hiya. Yuk! Mind you I say Hiya to my friends, colleagues, clients and other folks who know what a down-home old-fashioned Canadian peasant I really am.
Warm regards. How can a regard be warm? And anyway, what the h*ll is a regard? Oh, OK: “sentiments of esteem or affection,” according to Dictionary.com. I still don’t see how sentiments can be warmer than room temperature, but then I’m just being bitchy. All the same warm regards make me think of words like vanilla, boring, meaningless and worse.
Warmest regards. Nope – the est doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference. Warmest just suggests the best of an insipid lot … trying to make more out of what was precious little to start with.
Best regards. A derivative of “best wishes” popularly used in pre-internet days on greeting cards, letters, condolence letters etc. when you wanted to be nice to the person but didn’t know him/her and thought this was a compromise between friendliness and formality. Hmmm.
Kind regards. Can a regard be kind? Or if it is – given that it’s a “sentiment of esteem or affection” – surely it’s kind enough already? And if we’re calling those regards kind, are we suggesting that it’s bloody kind of us to hand you over some regards, considering what a loser we say you are behind your back? Strikes me as, er, kind of inappropriate.
Warmly. Much as I understand people who use this to close their emails I really can’t help thinking of that wonderful expression when you greet someone who is not your favorite person and you say how you “shook him warmly by the throat.” What does warmly mean? Really? Heating up your email client so it transmits your message at 25C or more? Warming up your hands before you hit the keyboard?
Some further reading about email clichés
Now it’s your turn. What email clichés wind you up the most?
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