Hey there!

Is that a good way to begin an email? Hey there? If I see those words at the top of an email, I usually delete it without reading it—except if it is from someone I know. Even so, I think less of that individual. If he or she really wants to engage my attention, why not take the split second to write, “Hi, Bill”? (Note the comma.) My nickname is short and easily spelled.

Is it too much to ask in this day of text messages, social media and smart phones for someone to properly greet the party he or she is addressing, to be sure that the spelling and grammar are correct and that sentences make sense? Yes, I can tolerate on-the-fly abbreviations and even a “thru” for “through” or a “4” for “for” in a text message. I do them (occasionally) myself, primarily because I hate typing with my thumbs or index finger on a small phone screen. (On a standard qwerty keyboard, I use all my fingers and type about 60 wpm, but I can’t get the hang of that small phone screen.) But, really, an email—especially a business email—should be a bit more well-dressed.

Mind you, I’m not asking that we go full-out Victorian. I haven’t handwritten a letter in years and have always thought “yours truly” (let alone “your humble servant”) sounded pretentious. But I cringe when someone begins a correspondence to me with “Dear William.” I have no problem with “dear,” as I realize it is a convention. It’s the “William” part I dislike. The name William is fine, and I use it in my formal signature. If it is used in an email, however, I know that the writer hasn’t bothered to research who I am and that I go by “Bill.” Delete.

In fact, I would much rather be addressed as Mr. Spaniel in an email if the correspondent has not communicated with me previously. Usually he or she is trying to attract my business in some way, and if he or she really wants me to at least consider an offer, formal address will make me somewhat more amenable than, say, a “Hey, Bill.” (And note the comma. Without the comma, “hey” could be mistaken as an adjective rather than an interjection.)

Topics: text messages, social media, emails, comma