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Over-familiarity Breeds Contempt – Email Etiquette

There was a piece this morning on the BBC’s Today Programme about email salutations. The clip’s here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9361000/9361254.stm

The heart of the topic is familiarity vs formality. It’s a serious one. Different cultures, different generations, different genders have sharply different attitudes to familiarity in email. Here’s a quick guide.

Responding to a new contact? Try mirroring their tone. This way you show that you’re accepting the level of intimacy they’re proposing. So, for example, if someone starts their email with “Dear”, respond in the same way rather than with a more casual opening.

Initiating contact? Err on the side of formality and address the person as a complete stranger. This allows them to come back with an equally formal response or, if they choose, with a friendly tone which you can borrow from then on.

And the Farewells? You won’t go far wrong with the simple, courteous, and neutral Regards, Kind Regards or Best Wishes.

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