How authentic is your business email sign-off?

Best wishes, Kind Regards, Regards, Kindest Regards, Yours, Yours respectfully, Cordially, Yours Sincerely, Many thanks, KR, BW, your initials? The old formal sign-off of letters used to be Yours sincerely, or Yours truly, but there is such a wide range of options now, especially in business emails.

Email being sent

Email being sent

So many options

There are so many ways that people choose to sign off their emails and I think it says a lot about someone’s sincerity if they keep the same one for all correspondence and how automated the sign-off is.

My main observation is around how kind someone’s regards are. I’ve received various versions and each variation has an interesting slant on them. Regards seems a little blunt. Kindest Regards sounds like they are trying to out do other people’s regards. Kind Regards, which I use mostly, is still a strange somewhat antiquated phrase in itself.

I am not a fan when people further shorten their sign-off to KR or BW which replace Kind Regards or Best Wishes. The message this sends out is that whilst I am paying lip service to my supposed kind regards or supposed best wishes, I can’t actually be bothered to add in the extra 9 or 8 letters before sending it to you.

Automation

I have noticed a number of people have included their sign-off as part of their email signature so it automatically says Regards, (or whatever) just above their name. So they don’t even give you enough of a regard to type it each type. It is an automatic thing with no effort included. That doesn’t imply that I am regarded! It implies you can’t be bothered typing something each time and that your communication to me isn’t important enough to express yourself sincerely enough as you sign off your communication to me!

What is the meaning behind your words?

There have probably been psychological studies into the depths of the meaning, intention and effort behind each of these sign-offs. If you read deeply into most regular greeting or sign off, there are people who would read too much into them. We get stuck into a routine of writing the same thing day in, day out and we don’t always type the most accurate phrase of what we actually mean. That may be a good thing at times!

We have taken a shift away from Dear Mr … or Dear Mrs… or Dear Sir or Madam as our initial greeting and often just start with Hi or Hi Tim (or whoever we are speaking to). The informal nature that has crept in is a reflection of how emails are seen as less formal as the written letter nowadays.

If I send an email to someone that is signed off Kind Regards, and they reply with Kindest Regards, am I being outdone with my level of regards? They regard me very kindly. But what does that actually mean? Are any of these the right phrase to use at all?

Other options?

When I think about what I actually mean when signing off emails they are more likely to be one of these options: Thank you (for when they have done something for me), Thanks in advance (for when they are going to do something for me), Speak to you soon (more of a conversational thing that we would say), Hope this answers your question (If they have asked one), Please get in touch if you need more … help/answers/guidance/whatever (If you have provided something for them).

These are more action-based rather than feeling-based. They are how we can follow up this communication or to acknowledge that a transaction has occurred. Do we need to say how sincere we are, how many thanks we are giving them, how well we regard them (we don’t actually often say how we don’t regard them very highly?) or about our wishes for them. When you look at it like that, the whole sign-off is a very strange affair altogether.

What now?

So far this article has identified that email sign-offs are a pretty strange and inaccurate way of expressing what we are actually thinking at the time. What now then? Should we change to something more accurate? Should we review what we actually are trying to say at the end of our emails? Yes, if we are communicating, we should be communicating what we actually want to communicate! The English language is hard enough as it is, without people going around the houses saying things they don’t mean or putting useless extra phrases in unnecessarily.

I’ve been using Kind Regards because it sounds polite and it shows my intentions are positive and good-natured. I think now I will shift towards the Thank you, Thanks in advance, Speak to you soon, Hope this answers your question, Please get in touch if you need… and keep my sign-offs action based instead of sometimes false-feeling based. Authenticity is important and it is key that we don’t appear false or automated in our communications. It may take me a while to get round to ironically sending these responses automatically authentically, but if I am least trying to be more me, then I am on the right path.

Should you have a think about how you sign-off your emails and communications? Does this article give you food for thought about how automated your sign-off is and whether you want to be seen as more human in your communications? What do other people think of you and how you write your emails? What kind of regards or best wishes are you giving out?

Thanks for reading this,

Richard.

(See what I did there!)

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