Frankly, My Dear …

Do many of your e-mails begin with “Dear so-and-so”? A lot of times mine do – probably too frequently. But I’m torn between the most appropriate phrases. I fluctuate from “Hi”/“Hey” … to “Good morning” … to “Greetings” (group e-mail) … to no salutations at all (usually done only with people I’m familiar with).

I took a brief inventory of the last 50 e-mails I sent. The openings were as follows:

  • Dear – 14 percent
  • Hi [insert name here]/hey – 40 percent
  • No salutations – 46 percent

Similarly, I analyzed 50 most recent messages in my inbox. The breakdown was a little different:

  • Dear – 2 percent
  • Hi/hey – 13 percent
  • No salutations – 62 percent
  • Everyone/Hey all – 3 percent
  • Doreen (my name) – 20 percent

Ironically, the only formal “dear” salutations I had in my inbox were from spammers. I probably don’t get as many formal acknowledgements as I send because more people are replying to my requests … or ignoring them. (I’m a PR person, after all.)

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article many modern communicators are nixing the salutation “dear” in their e-mails. Since e-mail is an informal medium, many assert that you have to craft the correspondence accordingly – and the right greeting sets the tone.

Figuring out the art of the best opening can be tricky. In the book SEND, authors David Shipley and Will Schwalbe discuss this topic, although they say that “Dear” is always acceptable and always correct.

So dear readers, what do you think?

Sincerely, (And, proper closings are probably a separate blog post all together …)