Interviewed for a BBC work-life article, I was asked about the right way of signing off on emails during the pandemic crisis. My response was:
“It is important to realize that the person on the other end with whom you are dealing may be in a serious situation: you don’t know what they are facing. Stay away from humor unless you know someone very well. If you’re close to the situation of the person you’re emailing, however, humor can provide a helping hand during dark times. A little light heartedness [can] make someone smile.”
Now we’re several months into the pandemic and people seem to be on the lookout for in-authentic “caring.” One business executive told me that she can “sniff out” when someone is trying too hard and that it is a turn-off.
How do you express concern and good wishes during email sign-offs that show someone you genuinely care?
Tone is an interesting thing. The reader actually seeks the tone of your words, but when he thinks he’s found it, he injects that tone while reading the entire message! If you strive for positivity, regardless of the subject, your tone will shine and be read into the message.
The line just before your email signature is your closing line. It serves as a reminder of your good will, and should be congruent within the context of your message. You will notice that these aren’t new and they don’t go out of style.
Depending on the situation and your relationship with the person you are emailing, you may want to include a sign-off sentence before your closing. This is also a good way to impart care, concern, appreciation, or general good wishes for the recipient of your message.
A short, simple sentence of good will is all that is necessary. Making it any longer, or “gushing,” will leave an impression of insincerity.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, we twenty-first century humans are still busy and rushed. The process of sending emails and other types of messages rarely slow us down.
And yet, the best way to check the clarity, positivity, and etiquette-fulness of your messages is to proofread them, which requires your focus and full mental presence.
The best method of proofreading is to read your message aloud and as if it had been sent to you. Consider these questions after reading it this way:
If you cannot answer these questions positively, make edits and try the above proofreading method again.
It is important that you keep in mind that your email sign-off includes the words you are leaving with. These closing words are the ones that usually create the biggest impression of your overall message – especially if they do not match with the tone of the remainder of your email.
Whether a professional or personal email, courtesy and respect should be a constant. Don’t underestimate your reader – make sure your email is free of grammatical and punctuation errors. Keep your message clear and direct.
And remember to always keep it etiquette-ful.