There are many websites and forums that advise on business emails and letters. This blog is beneficial to advanced esl (English as a Second Language) business people because I often explain the origin of the many expressions we use. To me, some are far too traditional and formal for this century, while others are much too casual and try hard to come off as* cool and modern. My tastes are somewhere in between* and tend towards a ‘proper-business-with-friendliness’ approach. It depends on the company, but it’s always a good idea to stay professional even when others seem to be writing like their teenaged children. A former colleague who handled many serious matters within a major automotive company once advised me, “Never write anything in an email you don’t want to see projected in large letters on a courtroom wall.” I never forgot that and was still able to be myself, be friendly and occasionally joke around*. Let’s face it* we live a world of abbreviations*, acronyms* and shortened words and phrases. Texting has made this quite common in the last 10 years. My advice is to be friendly but stay professional. Your business email address belongs to the company and you must remember that everything you write is as a representative of that company. Still, these days it is acceptable to be more informal. The following* are my personal choices for ‘greetings’ and ‘closings’ with a few other tips thrown in*. First, the main message of an email or a letter is called the ‘body.’ Above that, we address the person or people we are writing to.Most people call this the ‘greeting’, or the more old-fashioned*, ‘salutation.’ Below the ‘body’ we also end the message with a ‘closing’. The more traditional terms used are the ‘valediction’ or a ‘complimentary close.’ We shall call them the ‘greetings’ and ‘closings’ here. ‘Dear’ before a name, is still used as a traditional greeting. These days, people often start an email to another person by addressing the receiver of the correspondence simply by name. To an individual: Dear Caroline, Ms. Ryan, Caroline, Hello Caroline, Good Morning/Afternoon Caroline, Dear Jack, Hi Jack, Jack, Good day Mr. Cabot, To a group of people: Gentlemen, Dear Gentlemen, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Sirs, Dear Madam, Informal- Hey Team, Good Morning All, …and more formally to a company where you do not yet have a contact. To Whom it May Concern; To the Marketing Department; To the Western Regional Managers, Ladies and Gentlemen ; Dear Sir or Madam, My personal choice is to use the full name for the first correspondence and simply the first name after that, unless the person is a top executive. Then use Mr. or Ms. with the full last name and only use the first name when invited to do so. There are many more ‘closings’ to choose from. These traditional closings are fine: Sincerely, Sincerely yours, Yours sincerely, Yours truly, Yours faithfully, ‘Sincerely’ is still the acceptable frontrunner.* But traditional styles have changed. Even in business, many other closings are acceptable. Some are more casual and the others more formal. As we know- some have become abbreviated. It is good to understand where sayings come from so you can truly understand your English language choices. Best… This comes from: ‘Please accept my best wishes for you’ and ‘All my Best Wishes for you’ It has, over time, been shortened to become: ‘Best Wishes’ and ‘All my best’ Recently this became shortened again to just ‘Best,’ Although considered acceptable (even by a Forbes magazine article about etiquette) I personally do not use anything shortened to one word unless it’s ‘Thanks.’ Best, Eve Well, best what? It seems unfinished to me. Of course I know what it means. This is only my professional preference to use ‘Best Wishes’ or ‘Best Regards.’ That takes us to another common, polite closing word meaning ‘to show respect or consideration.’ Regards. This can include ‘Kind Regards’, ‘Best Regards’, and for closer relationships and /or very personal thank you notes to clients: ‘Warm Regards’. (Warmest regards is also fine) Rgds. another abbreviation. Stop. Just type 3 more letters and be professional. I often use ‘Kind Regards’ as it is both professional and polite. Thanks. Thank you. With Thanks, My British boss often signed off* ‘Many Thanks’ after writing a request, which I adopted as a friendly, but still business- polite closing. Note: Many people from the United Kingdom sign off with, ‘Cheers.’ Years ago, this surprised me. For me, it was something said as a toast* or salutation before drinking spirits, but it’s friendly and casual for, ‘thanks’ or ‘good wishes’ or even ‘good-bye’. So my favorites are; Kind Regards, Many Thanks and Best Wishes. Continued in Part 2 Visit www.EBCbridges.com to ask me questions, schedule a session for esl or esl business consulting from experienced, top corporate business professionals. Explanations of the phrases or idioms used in this blog. * come off (as)- to appear to have a particular attitude, intention, or character. To give the impression. I didn't want to come off as weak. * in between- located in the middle of two things, states, or possibilities. The bath water is not hot or cold. It's in between. * joke around- to act amusingly and without seriousness: To fool someone lightheartedly. We didn't mean to appear rude—we were just joking around. * let’s face it - we must accept the facts or truth of this. * An abbreviation is a shortening of a word or a phrase. Asap, OMG, lol, TBD etc… * An acronym is an abbreviation that forms a word. * the following -or ‘as follows’ As will be stated next. * thrown in - offered, to add as a bonus or gratuity. * old-fashioned- Of a style or method formerly in vogue; outdated. Attached to or favoring methods, ideas, or customs of an earlier time: old-fashioned parents. * frontrunner - One that is in a leading position in a race or other competition: the front-runner for the presidential nomination. * toast - the act of raising a glass and drinking in honor of or to the health of a person or thing.