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Friday, November 2, 2012

I Love Ya, I Love Ya Not


How many of you remember the ancient practice of letter writing? I remember taking a class in junior high on how to write certain types of letters and what format to use. There was nothing confusing about it. You either wrote formal or informal letters. There were standard greetings (Dear Mr. Important) and endings (Sincerely; Cordially).

I used to write many letters to friends and family when I was single, but then life went from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds. Marriage and kids does that. I haven’t written a snail mail letter in years, with the exception of a condolence letter to my aunt. I’ve sent short messages in cards, but not an actual letter. And as long as I’ve mentioned cards, I’ll confess to being bad about sending out Christmas cards. So maybe it’s a lack of letter writing practice that makes email etiquette confusing to me, but it feels more like there aren’t any rules for writing emails. 

Am I the only person who agonizes over how I should address a person in an email? Should I use Ms.? Mrs.? Miss? First name? Hey you? Do I use “dear”, “hi”, or “hello” first?

If I just use a first name without a dear—i.e. Samantha—does it sound like I’m angry? Or rude? Or militant? (I suppose that could be the case if I just used a last name. Hey, Stone! Drop and give me 50!)

If I know the person well, do I even need a greeting? And what constitutes knowing someone well? I’ve virtually met lots of people, but I might not know them if we passed on the street.


What I MIGHT look like with a monkey body
Phew! So many questions and I haven’t even started writing the email. But as torturous as it can be to sort out the greeting, figuring out how to end the email is a thousand times harder. Let’s see. What are our choices?

Sincerely. Hmm… Do I really feel “sincere” when I tell the contractor we haven’t hired anyone yet, so it’s okay to mail the estimate he forgot to send three weeks ago? Slightly irritated describes my mood better.

Cordially. (I hate to admit that I had to look the word up to know the actual meaning.) I don’t often write emails I consider to be “heartfelt”, but when I do, I’m not going to end it with cordially. It sounds like I have a rod up my—Oh, never mind.

Thanks? Can I just end an email with thanks? It’s simple and to the point.

Cheers makes me feel like a lush. Yeah, I’m tossing back a cold one while I’m answering email. Booyah!!!

Peace? Peace out? What am I? A wanksta?

Yours truly. I wouldn’t even use that one with my hubby. It sounds so sappy. LOL. Hard to believe I write romance, isn’t it?

Hugs. When is it okay to use the word? If I’ve actually hugged the person, it should be fair game, right? Well, I’ve hugged my agent and editor, but it feels really awkward to end an email with “hugs”.

Love ya. That’s another one that makes me feel a bit squirrelly. I have friends I dearly love, but it still feels a little weird to end my email this way. The only true exception are any emails I send to my oldest friends, the girls I grew up with. It feels natural. I’ve even dropped the word “ya”.

XOXO. I’m a little less uptight about this one. Maybe because it’s letters, but if I think about it, I would never end an email with Kiss, Hug, Kiss, Hug.

Warmly is nice. It’s positive and yet not too intimate. Hotly would be a different story.

The publishing world seems to favor “All best”. It’s not my favorite because it’s an incomplete sentence AND it’s missing a word. All THE best. Still, I’ve adopted the practice to fit in. Sometimes I’ll just say “Best” ‘cause I’m too cool to bother with “all”.

I like “Best wishes” and “Happy reading”, depending on the receiver. But I just chuckled thinking about sending in my next manuscript with “happy reading” as a closing to my email.

Just to be clear, I give this absolutely no thought when I’m the receiver. I love any and all email I get from readers, friends, and fellow publishing folks. I’m also perfectly okay with being addressed as Samantha or Sam. No need to use Ms. Grace. And you can use XOXO, Hugs, Yours Truly, Peace Out, or any other variation you can imagine at the end. I'm just happy to hear from you! 

So tell me, am I the only one that obsesses over this stuff? Are there different things you obsess over? Please, tell me there is. PLEASE! Anyone?? 

29 comments:

  1. I don't think your only one obsess over this. I have wonder what to have write in an email. Especially, when it comes to claiming a book from other blogs. I don't want to sound ungrateful or just give me my book. However, the people I have gotten to know has become a little easiery. I sometimes wonder if they should make a class on writing an email, but that's just me.

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    1. Melody,
      Thank you for making me feel less alone in my obsession. You're a good friend. It would make things easier if they had a class on how to write an email. I would have a lot less angst. :)

      Happy Friday! Do you have plans for the weekend?

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    2. I have to wonder if they've updated the High School English classes to include email writing etiquette, since that was where we learned letter writing etiquette. Anyone know?

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  2. Samantha ~ First of all... Was that "Hey, Stone! Drop and give me 50" directed at me?!?! :) 'Cause I'm not givin' anybody 50. LOL

    If I'm writing to friends or colleagues, I just used FIRSTNAME then a comma, dash or ~
    If I'm writing someone I don't know I do say "Dear" Mr. or Ms. LASTNAME. If on their return email they use their first name, then all subsequent emails will use the name they used in their signature. Make sense?

    As for ending my emails... if it's to a friend, there's usually nothing. The email goes with my signature line but nothing else.
    A co-worker or colleague will get a "Thanks!" or "Hope you have a great day/weekend."
    Someone I don't know will get the "Sincerely"

    Now, Grace! You drop and give ME 50. ;)

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    1. Ava,

      I knew you would be the least likely to listen to me. Yeah, the whole drop and give 50 thing... It's not going to happen. :D

      I think you should teach the class Melody mentioned.

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    2. How in the world could 50 be "good"?

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    3. If it is 50 good things. Pieces of chocolate. Kisses. Hugs. Completed pages. Books.

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    4. Drop and give me 50 pieces of chocolate?
      Drop and give me 50 kisses?
      Drop and give me 50 hugs?
      Drop and give me 50 completed pages?
      Drop and give me 50 books?

      Some of those sound dirty. ;) And the others... who's carrying around 50 pieces of chocolate? And if they are... why would they need to "drop" first?

      I like your Pollyanna attitude today, Cat... but I think it's misplaced. LOL!

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  3. Dear Sam, um...I mean Dear Mrs. Grace. Heck, never mind! Your blog was hilarious! I don't obsess too much over the beginning of e-mails. Though I will admit recently an agent and I swaped e-mails back and forth and she kept adressing me as Julie, my name, and I had to force myself to address her by her first name. It felt so familiar and unprofessional since we have never met, but once I did it I was used to it. Endings of e-mails are harder for me. If I know you really well, I've been known to drop an xoxoxo. My grandmother used to end all her letters that way, so it's kind of part of my heritage! I usually end all business e-mails with a Sincerely or thanks so much. Your comment about Best totoally cracked me up! That may be my new way I end e-mails. Watch you 'in' box.

    Best,
    Julie

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  4. This had me giggling. I didn't obsess about these things but now I am going to. Thank you very much! I don't even think about how I address or end an e-mail, but I write them all the time at work and I think I automatically use what is comfortable for that person or situation. I am far more conscious of what I am sending at work as opposed to my critique partners - lol. However, I do obsess over content. Most e-mail messages are edited, reedited, and edited again before I send them. I am always afraid a tone will be misunderstood.

    Peace Out, Girlfriend ;).

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad I could add a little anxiety to your day. LOL

      Tone is definitely something to be concerned about. I'll re-read any emails I send at work, especially if there is the potential for conflict.

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  5. The "All Best" one gets me, too. All THE best? All MY best? All best CORRESPONDENCE ENDS IN CRYPTIC PHRASES? What the heck does it all mean????

    I think, with the advent of email, most of the old letter-writing things we learned in school have gone out the window. I mean, I rarely begin an email with Dear XXX. I usually just use the person's name, or if it is to someone I know well and email frequently, I usually don't even bother with names. And I tend to not end it with anything but my signature, so I don't have to worry about whether the email has anything to do with All Best, whether I wrote it while drinking a cordial, whether I'm feeling overly warm, etc.

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    1. All best correspondence ends in cryptic phrases! Too funny! That makes me want to make up some nonsense phrase to start using. :D

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  6. Samantha,
    I'm sure it comes as no great shock that manners aren't my forte. Ahem. It doesn't even enter my mind how I should address someone--probably because I have a bad habit of getting right to the point. Ask Marquita or Olivia, and they'll tell you my correspondences begin with, "Hey!" followed by an euphemism for "Lady of the Night." And that's for people I LIKE. :/

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    1. LMAO! I think I've gotten an email like that from you, and wondered who'd told you I'd been walkin' the streets. :)

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    2. Teehee! I keep track of all my favorite Ladies of the Night, Ava. You can't hide it from me! ;}

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    3. Andris,
      That's so funny, because I started an email to one of my co-workers the exact same way today. We're very close. I wouldn't do that with just anyone, at least not on purpose. LOL. But it's part of an ongoing joke. Thank goodness for co-workers with a sense of humor!

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  7. One word: Cheers. LOL - I use it almost exclusively, unless it is a super important business thing, in which case I dust 'sincerely' off. I do so love letters, and actually, my current Sealed With a Kiss series is based on letters :) They are special, long lasting, and won't be lost in an accidental slip of the 'delete' button!

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    1. Erin,
      I love letters, too. I just prefer to receive them rather than write them. LOL

      The letters in More Than a Stranger are so charming. I loved the humor. Can't wait to read your Christmas novella.

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  8. Nah! Life has become very casual. In a business office, we would still use relatively formal correspondence, however, even some of that has become more relaxed from the usual "Dear Sir/Yours truly" years.

    I like a salutation of "Dear Friends at (whatever)." This is a friendly start. An equally friendly and casual ending could be: "All the Best!"

    Agonizing doesn't do you any good so err on the side of relaxed! :-)

    All the Best! (See? ;-) )

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    1. Connie,
      I'll have what you're drinking.

      Cheers! ;D

      Love the laid back attitude, and you're right, of course. No sense sweating it. And thank you for including "the'. It's tired of being snubbed.

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  9. My current obsession: How to fit everything that has to be done in a day! So my emails tend to be short and to the point!

    :-)

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    1. Direct has it's advantages! Hope things slow down for you soon. :)

      Word!

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    2. Ya know, that's a little cryptic too. Word? Is that like a fill in the blank? Pick your own goodbye. :)

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  10. I'll just say this - LOVE YA!

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