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To Greet or Not To Greet in Emails

Email Etiquette and Email Greetings

With more emails being exchanged than ever, several kind readers have emailed me on the topic of whether incorporating a greeting in your emails is necessary. Or is it “a waste of time”?

As with most issues discretion it key. Generally, you definitely want to include a greeting. In other less formal quick back and forths — it may not be necessary.

Greetings are a Social Courtesy

When you call someone, you always say “Hi”, “Hello” or offer some sort of greeting before you start rambling away about the reason for your call. Same if you are in person, right?

It is also common to ask how someone is doing, or what is new. That’s called human interaction.

If you were to call someone and just start jabbering, that’s a bit ostentatious and rude. Those you are calling probably cringe when they hear your voice. Same can apply to email.

How would you react if someone called you and were so concerned about what they wanted to say that they went right into why they were calling without this little nicety? People prefer to communicate with those who show the basic courtesies and present themselves in a friendly manner.

Some say they are too busy to type a Hello or Hi. Really? 3-6 keystrokes? A few more if you type a name (which is also recommended).

The little effort it takes to type a “Hey, John!”, “Hi, Jane:” or a “Hello, Sally:” can make all the difference in the world in setting the tone of your email.

Don’t be Cringey

Without a nice greeting (Hello, Hi, G’Day, Hey) at the beginning of your email, more times than not your content will be perceived as demanding or terse.

With email, the tiny little courtesies, such as including a greeting with every email instead of just blurting out your comments, demands or questions, will go a long way to being perceived as someone who is a pleasure to communicate with. When the other side sees your name in their inbox, they’ll be excited to see what you have to say instead of mumbling “…now what?”

There are those that think general writing rules and skills do not come into play with email. It’s an informal communication tool, yes, but that doesn’t negate the need for courtesy. There is always a need for courtesy.

Without a greeting:

Did you get my email with the questions about this weekend? I need your response.

With a greeting:

Hello, Jane:

Hope you are doing well!

Did you get my email with the questions about this weekend? I need your response.

Thank you!

Do you see the subtle difference of tone and intent? Especially when you add a closing and your name to wrap things up?

Now, there are times where in a personal back and forth email conversation, you wouldn’t use a greeting because it is not necessary. For example when I am emailing my sister, after a series of emails, one side or the other may just type back a humorous comment. No greeting necessary — we are in a conversation.

However, usually the little courtesy of a greeting in an email can serve to you reflect you are a person who is pleasant to communicate with. It helps to build relationships and encourage future discussions.

Well worth the few extra keystrokes required, don’t you agree?

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