Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 516

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 531

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 538

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 574

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-includes/cache.php on line 103

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-includes/query.php on line 61

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-includes/theme.php on line 1107

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent by (output started at /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php:516) in /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/wordpress-automatic-upgrade.php on line 119

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php:516) in /nfs/c02/h09/mnt/27817/domains/iii.bobulate.com/html/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/wordpress-automatic-upgrade.php on line 119
Bobulate » Second Chance for a Last Impression
posted on
November 2, 2007
by Liz Danzico

Second Chance for a Last Impression

image

Forget what you’ve heard about first impressions; it’s the last impressions that count. Last impressions — whether they’re with customer service, an online shopping experience, or a blind date — are the ones we remember. They’re the ones that keep us coming back. But there’s one kind of final impression that people seem to forget.

The closing line of email — that line that you write before you type your name — has been all but forgotten. Go take a look at your inbox: you might be astonished at how little attention people pay to the closing lines when writing email. This underrated rhetorical device is so frequently disregarded that many people have the gall to use an automatic closing line attached to their email signature file.

Closing lines vary from the highly self-conscious (“My warmest regards,”) to the impersonal sig file to the charmless (“Best,”).

image
A scientific study of my email inbox.

Closing lines, at least in my inbox, revealed the following:

Tnx
Best
Word
Later
Laters
Thanks
Cheers
Cheery
Take care
Feel better
All the best
Safe travels
Love you all
Super great
Best regards
Get well soon
With gratitude
Thanks family
Your weary friend
Thanks in advance
Thanks, all the best
Don’t work too hard
Hope to see you Thursday
Hope to hear from you soon
Warm regards right back at ya

It seems that there are patterns in the type of closing lines I receive. If ordered another way, they look like this:

Ordered By Intention
Expressing gratitude
Tnx
Thanks
Thanks family
Thanks in advance
Thanks, all the best

Expressing general sentiment
Best
All the best
Best regards
Word
Later
Laters
Cheers
Cheery
Super great

Expressing affection
Love
Love you
Love you all

Expressing state
Your weary friend
With gratitude

Imperatives
Feel better
Take care
Safe travels
Get well soon
Don’t work too hard

Wishes
Hope to see you Thursday
Hope to hear from you soon!
Warm regards right back at ya

With all of these, the intensity and, dare I say, sincerity varies depending on punctuation. A warm “Thanks!” has quite a different sentiment than a flat “Thanks,”.

I must point out that there is most definitely a correlation between intimacy and length. The better you know someone, the shorter the closing lines tend to me. My closest friends sign their emails with a single letter (“-k”) or no closer at all — the ultimate signifier of a friendship. But those are the exception. Those are for unique cases. Not carefully considering a closing for other kinds of relationships is as thoughtless as hanging up without a goodbye.

If a closing line can be so meaningful, so important, why are emailers squandering the opportunity, putting no thought in the closing? Time, perhaps, iPhone-finger exhaustion, multi-tasking—they’re all possible excuses. And many times, acceptable ones. We can’t be expected to neatly tie up every email every time. But once in a while, it would be delightful if people applied the same sincerity to the last impressions that we do to first ones.

13 Responses

Whenever I read an email signed “Best”, I usually think what the writer really means is “Fuck you”. I dunno why.

Cheers! (which I use because it implies that (a) I am an anglophile, or at least a europhile, (b) that I am optimistic, and (c) that I am drinking)

well for me my email signature file only contains my contact details. the pleasure (or displeasure) of signing off still rest upon me at the end of my email.

for the close ones, it ranges from “Geronimo!” to “Seeya!”

for the the really pesky clients, they get a very cold “thanks”

:)

Jay

Christopher,

I always write best. Sometimes that’s exactly what I mean, but most of the time it means nothing at all.

Sincerely rubs me the wrong way, as does Warmly, or any adverb for that matter.

So best it is.

Best,

Jay

Thanks Liz — I’m now extremely self-conscious of how I sign my emails! As if I didn’t have enough to worry about already…

Respectfully Submitted,
Jeff

Me: jefflash.com
My Blog: How To Be a Good Product Manager

Like I was sayin’… I bet a big part of it is that folks don’t write letters any more. It’s hard to leave out the closing when your name is just sort of floating at the bottom of a sheet of paper. I wonder what it is about the medium of e-mail that makes it feel different.

I don’t really take a position on whether it’s Good or Bad for Society. But I know I miss that extra TLC, a little lagniappe. It’s as if the writer takes the time to consider the relationship with the receiver and, perhaps, where they might like to see it go. All boiled down to a couple words.

And while we’re on the topic, many folks have abandoned the salutation in e-mail as well. I think that was another corporate victim of brevity and efficiency. Not that leaving it off is always bad, but thoughtlessly leaving it off usually is.

And another thing. Like Christopher, I’m not a big fan of “best,” either. I don’t get it. It just seems incomplete.

Basically I try to end my messages with the most accurate and honest feeling I have towards the person I am writing. I use the word or words that I would likely say aloud when parting with them in real life. “Best”, as you say, means nothing — I would never actually say that to a person. 90% of my emails either say “Cheers” (meaning “I enjoyed this occasion to communicate with you, kbye”) or “Thanks” (”I am ingratiated to you”), which is really how I close most verbal encounters, too.

If an email or letter is hostile for whatever reason, and it’s impossible to pretend otherwise, I will try to use a meaningless term like “Regards” or, yes, “Best”, specifically because I don’t want to communicate any sort of respect or delight to the addressee.

Perhaps the choice of words, for most people, has less to do with how you genuinely feel about the person you’re writing to, as Liz speculates, and more to do with how comfortable you are generally telling other people how you feel, how much of your emotional attritude you want to communicate. If you generally wear your heart on your sleeve, cute, cloying, or expressive signoffs may seem perfectly appropriate to you… But if you generally play your emotional cards close to your chest, if you don’t like the idea of having to openly define your feelings every time you finish an email, you may wish to avoid giving away your disposition (or miscommunicating it), so a meaningless “Best” may seem preferable. In other words, maybe it doesn’t translate as a veiled “Fuck you”, or even “I don’t care about you”… but rather it means simply should be read as “Message complete”.

Message complete, ;-)
-Chris

Liz Danzico

Chris said:

If you generally wear your heart on your sleeve, cute, cloying, or expressive signoffs may seem perfectly appropriate to you… But if you generally play your emotional cards close to your chest, if you don’t like the idea of having to openly define your feelings every time you finish an email, you may wish to avoid giving away your disposition …

I really like this theory. Closing lines could indeed be directly related to how open one is about feelings. You sense that in great detail when you are physically parting with someone. Air-kisses, firm handshakes, hands-shoved-in-pockets—these are all indicative of how comfortable people are with expressing emotion in just one type of interactions.

I must say that being conscious of it seems to change things quite a bit. Just about every email I’ve received, for example, since I wrote this post has had a fantastic closing line. For posterity, just one example:

“Until we next meet, or talk, or email, or other form of written or verbal or in person communication at which time we discuss our personal and/or professional lives as well as cultural topics such as movies, music, and the weather,”

Thanks everyone!

“The better you know someone, the shorter the closing lines…”

That reminds me of something I just read. I think email between closer ties starts to resemble texting, so I think the following about the lack of a closing creating a sense of “perpetual contact” is analogous:

“…in SMS communication, attention, connection and mutual identification are secured in ways other than verbal: the channel is always open for message delivery, the message arrival is announced by various alert signs, the identity of the sender is displayed by the device, the device is constantly carried by the owner and the identity of the receiver is easily assumed since cell phones are usually personal tools and messages are exchanged between people who know each other well. Starting and ending an SMS encounter without openings and closures is, then, a practice that exploits the technical affordances of the medium in a socially significant way: the interlocutors treat themselves as being already available in the communicative place, their mediated presence being ceaseless in what has been termed as a ’sense of perpetual contact’”

Spagnolli, A., & Gamberini, L. (2007). Interacting via SMS: Practices of social closeness and reciprocation. British Journal of Social Psychology, 46(2), 343-364.

Slloyddouglass

“Best” as a salutation is not meaningless when deployed honestly - it is, obviously, merely the colloquial form of “best regards” or “best wishes” - when I’m going in for the ironic “thanks but I really mean fuck off” I always go with “thanking you in advance.”

Nor is the intention of every salutation to charm.

It also seems worth noting that some forms of what might be called social shorthand are necessary to preserve a veneer of civility.

There is, one might argue, such a thing as too much honesty.

It is not always appropriate to say precisely what one is thinking in the moment.

Just as a handshake is appropriate in one circumstance, a hug in another, and a kiss in still another, one tries to gauge the circumstance when emailing and sign off accordingly.

It also strikes me that this discussion thread reveals a great deal about how neurotic the participants (myself included) are - it is perhaps too much attention paid to a problem easily solved by simply signing off “Love” to those that you truly love or whatever else you’re comfortable with to those that don’t fall into that category, and understanding that this is very likely how everyone approaches this “problem.”

ps - did I mention how happy I was to see that there were no emoticons here? If we really want to talk about the debasement and dissolution of proper communication, that seems to be a better place to start.

Really good and really interesting post. I expect (and other readers maybe :)) new useful posts from you! Good luck and successes in blogging!

..]recommend to my readers visit and read this intresting and useful blog..]

Liz,

I’d wish you best wishes but you’re going to have to work hard for that kind of love,
Victor

p.s. more siggie goodness

Dig the blog a LOT! Nice style and I like the way you discuss the tracks. I’m going to bookmark it.