Tag Archives: business etiquette

Will the Handshake Fall Victim to Corona?

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The handshake, as we know it now, is in danger of becoming extinct, much to the delight of some and to the chagrin of others. During this crisis in addition to practicing social distance, washing our hands constantly, not touching our face, we have been advised not to shake hands. Eventually, we will be able to gather with others socially and professionally. When we do, we may remember to wash our hands frequently. We may think twice before touching our face. But what will become of the handshake? If Dr. Fauci of the Corona Taskforce has his way, the handshake will be history. I have the utmost respect for Dr. Fauci.

I am not disagreeing with Dr. Fauci. I am wondering just how this will work. After all, we have been shaking hands for centuries. Mo Rocca of CBS interviewed an anthropologist who stated that the handshake dates back 60 million years. He said it is “a very primal sort of connection, very emotional.” He pointed out that chimpanzees and gorillas long for tactile contact and do much the same thing as humans. We all like that physical connection.

Throughout history the handshake has been a sign of peace and respect. We shake hands with our right hand. Some say that has its origins in medieval times. Knights used the right hand because that was the one that drew the sword. Engaged in a handshake, the knight was not able to draw his sword and strike.

Today we extend a handshake in both social and business situations. We offer our hand when we meet people, when we leave people, when we thank someone, congratulate someone or offer an apology. If that age-old practice goes away, what will we do? While there are options, one thing is for sure, there will be many awkward moments.

Before you head out into the world of the “new normal’, decide how you want to deal with the issue and plan what you will say. If you choose to remain a fan of the handshake, don’t assume other people are. You might approach by asking people how they feel about shaking your hand. If they don’t want to engage, assure them that you understand. If you are anti-handshaking, say so right away. You might say, “Please forgive me for not shaking your hand, but in light of all we’ve been through, I am not comfortable doing so.”

Some people are turning to the East for guidance and choosing the Indian greeting Namaste. You bring both hands together and center them in front of your chest. Then make a small motion to bow while saying Namaste. In the Japanese tradition, the bow is another choice for staying germ-free.

One more greeting is simply holding up an open hand to others. That signals that you are not going to shake hands. It is generally readily understood. Just make sure your open hand doesn’t come across as “Whoa, back off.”

In case you end up shaking someone’s hand because it’s such an ingrained habit, pause before dousing yourself in hand sanitizer.

I have omitted the fist bump and elbow bump from my list of professional greetings. Need I say more?

Good manners and etiquette are about making people feel comfortable. Keep that in mind when you decide how to deal with shaking hands in a world that the Corona virus has changed forever.

Working Remotely: It’s Not Business As Usual

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Are you working remotely? Do I even need to say Corona virus for you to know where I am going?  In the last two weeks, our lives have changed drastically. It’s not business as usual. Social distancing has become business distancing. Vast numbers of people are working from home during this crisis. Employers are not just asking their people to work from home, they are mandating it.

So how do you handle working from home? Maybe it’s what you thought you always wanted. Now that you can, what do you do? It may be a bit more challenging than you realized.

As someone who has worked from home for 25 years, I have some suggestions for how to maintain your productivity and professionalism from your newly-created home work place.

Designate a specific space for your office. For some that maybe easier said than done. You may have to operate from a shared space. Not everyone has a spare room waiting to be used.  You may need to share your office with a spouse or partner who is also working remotely. The arrangement may not be ideal. Your new office could be your kitchen table. Share that with the whole family.

Set ground rules for others in the house. Just because you are at home doesn’t make you fair game whenever a family member wants to interrupt you.

Create a routine for starting your day. Model it after your previous schedule when you got up, dressed, and left for work. I call this “Let’s pretend.” Let’s pretend you are going to your away-from-home office.

Get dressed for work. Yes, dress for work. Get out of those pj’s. That will help get you in the right mindset. Additionally, you’ll be ready to present a professional image when you receive an unexpected video call.

Schedule your breaks and honor that time. You would be taking breaks in a traditional setting and not thinking much about your water-cooler time. You need to step away from your desk from time to time to refresh.

Don’t be hard on yourself. Take advantage of the perks. It’s okay to put in a load of wash or tend to other at-home duties. Cut yourself some slack.

Stay off social media during your business hours. Turn off everything that might be a distraction. Ouch!

Declare your WFH (work from home) hours. People need to know when you are available. Consider publishing your work hours online and putting them your voice mail greeting. That way people won’t assume that you are goofing off when they can’t reach you.

Establish an end of day routine.  Review the day, create a work plan for the following day, shut down your computer and leave the office.

These are just a few suggestions for working effectively from home. Most are good old common sense. Your organization probably didn’t have a playbook in place for this situation so everyone is working it out either alone or together. The goal is to stay focused, productive and professional while not being hard on yourself and your family—and that includes the dog.

The Business Apology

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The business apology can be worth its weight in gold when done properly. With an intentional strategy, it becomes a part of the overall customer experience and part of a plan involving customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty. It goes without saying that an apology is critical when a company has made a mistake. Just as important, it needs to be part of the customer service approach when the company has not made a mistake, but the customer believes it has. It’s incredible how many organizations don’t know how, when, or even why to apologize and fail to train their employees on the value of uttering with sincerity the words, “I’m sorry.”

There are nine simple steps to a good business apology.

  1. Say, “I’m sorry.” In spite of what your lawyer may have told you, those should be the first words out of your mouth. (Note: If the incident could result in any kind of legal action or liability then delaying long enough to seek legal advice is prudent and necessary.)
  2. Be sincere. Your body language and tone of voice need to match your words. First, people believe what they see more than what they hear. A fake apology doesn’t fool anyone.
  3. React quickly. An apology that is several days old loses its credibility and effectiveness.       A lot of damage can be done if you wait too long.
  4. Drop the excuses. Take responsibility for whatever you said or did. You weaken your apology when you start piling on excuses such as “I was having a bad day” or “I just broke up with my girlfriend.” The last sentence actually came straight out of the mouth of a server in a restaurant. The customer was not impressed.
  5. Forget the blame game. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was. It happened.
  6. Make amends. Do whatever you can to set things right. I recently sent one of my products to a customer. The item did not arrive on the day I promised, and I had an unhappy individual on my hands. I apologized and sent a replacement overnight. There was an additional cost to me, but I won over the customer who has since come back for additional products and services. The shipping company was at fault, but the customer didn’t care and it was up to me to take responsibility and correct the situation.
  7. Don’t get defensive and argumentative. Once you get your dander up, you are headed for trouble and will only make the situation worse. One of my favorite sayings is “Never argue with an idiot.  Those watching may not be able to tell the difference.”
  8. Listen without interrupting.  When customers get upset, they need to vent.   Often they require something to chew on and that may be you. Let them. You may learn something important from what they say. When you interrupt people, you are likely to miss hearing valuable information that could help you resolve the issue.
  9. Finally, don’t go overboard and over-apologize.  Say what you need to say and do what you need to do, then move on. You will only make matters worse with excessive apologies. As the saying goes, “When you find yourself in a hole, don’t keep digging.”

People can come up with any number of reasons not to apologize, but there are many more reasons for the business apology.  Number one is because it is the right thing to do. Plus, it is good customer service, which is good for business and that’s good for the bottom line.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Texting in Business: the New Phone and the New Email

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Just a few short years ago would you have thought that texting in business would be a widely-accepted staple of  communication? Probably not, but then a decade ago, you would not have believed that email would be flooding your inbox. Thanks to texting, those overflowing inboxes are no longer consuming the better part of our day. Texting has become the new email and the new phone call.

Before we get into the subject of why, when and how to text, be assured that I am not suggesting that you abandon all other forms of communication in business. Hopefully, nothing will supplant real conversation over the phone or meeting face-to-face.

Why should you consider texting in business?

  1. Your customers prefer texting. Regardless of your preferred means of communication, it’s the customer who chooses. Because of all those spam calls, some people, even in business, do not answer their phones. Others won’t take your call because they don’t want to get involved in a lengthy phone conversation.
  2. Texting has a higher open and response rate. Studies show that people will open a text message while they ignore an email. And they are more likely to respond. Now that’s good business.
  3. Texting is a time– It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that texting is faster than making a phone call or sending an email.
  4. Texting is versatile. You can send out reminders, make appointments, schedule meetings and announce business updates. It’s a short sweet marketing toll. 

Before you embrace texting with all of its advantages, establish guidelines and set standards for yourself and your business. If you don’t, you can quickly spoil a business relationship.

What are the etiquette rules for texting in business?  

  1. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms unless your customer uses them. Don’t assume that everyone knows what you know or knows what you mean.
  2. Text at appropriate times. Is it after hours? Are you likely to be an intrusion?
  3. Use correct spelling. Yes, even in texting.
  4. Limit your number of texts you send. A nuisance will quickly lose credibility.
  5. Include your business name in each message. Again, make no assumptions.
  6. Consider your “why” for sending the message. Your customers need to know what you expect them to do. Do you have a “call to action” or an obvious reason for sending that text? Be clear about your purpose and give instructions for responding.
  7. Proof your text. Treat it just as would your email. Check your grammar, spelling, readability and especially the autocorrect. Texting makes assumptions. If you don’t double-check, it will replace what you wrote with some bizarre and unintended words.
  8. Get your customers’ permission before texting them. There are laws that govern texting in business. Know what they are. Ask your attorney or refer to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Texting is here to stay. People like it. Why? They like it because it is private. They like it because it leaves a record of conversations. They like it because it’s polite and respectful of others and acknowledges their busy lives.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

The New Year is Thank You Note Season

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Now that the holidays are almost over, and we find ourselves in the new year, it’s time to start sending out thank you notes for the thoughtful gifts and tasty treats you received during the season. Yes, I know, those are not the words you want to hear—especially since you know that I am talking about those handwritten notes that I continue to harp on. It would be so much easier and more convenient to text or email your gratitude. A few clicks of the keyboard, and you’re done.

However, when it comes to delighting those special gift-givers with the perfect sentiment at the perfect time, here are two things to consider:

  • Ink trumps email. Why? Ink implies effort.
  • Handwritten notes connect people in a way that simply isn’t possible via text or email. How? Your unique handwriting makes your message and therefore your relationship more personal.

Now that you understand the power of the handwritten note, what’s holding you back?

  • Is it the time? We all have the same number of hours and days.
  • Are you too busy? Everybody feels life is too demanding.
  • Do you lack the supplies you need? If you haven’t heeded my earlier advice and purchased appropriate cards or notes before the holiday rush, those items are still available. They do not sell out during the holidays.
  • Did you forget to buy stamps?  If so, no problem. The rush is over at the post office so pick up stamps while you’re out shopping for your stationary. Then write a note to self on your calendar for next fall that reminds you to buy your correspondence cards or notes and stamps early.

Finally, the greatest obstacle for most people is knowing what to say and how to say it? Those two things should be the least of your worries if you establish a process for writing your thank you notes and follow these steps:

Step 1. Decide how to address the recipient. Do you need to formal salutation or one that is casual? Are you going to call the person by first name or use their title and last name?

Step 2. Begin with “Thank you”. There’s no need to attempt anything more exotic than those two words.

Step 3. Name the gift specifically. Saying “Thank you for the gift’ is cold, off-putting and will make your recipients wonder if you value their gift or even know what it was. You might as well say, “Thank you for the thing.”

Step 4. Say something about the gift. What made it special? How will you use it? If someone sent your food items, tell them how much you either enjoyed the treats or how much you are looking forward to having them. Even if you are not thrilled with what you received, the giver need not know.

Step 5. Say how much you appreciate the thoughtfulness. This is really simple and always sincere. Who doesn’t appreciate being thought of?

Step 6. Choose your closing. Again…are you being formal or casual in your approach? Your salutation will determine your closing.

Think of your thank you note as a sandwich.

The opening and closing are the like the two slices of bread. Your thank you for the specific gift is the lettuce; the sentence about why you like the gift or how you will use it is the meat; the statement saying you appreciate their thinking of you is the cheese. Now wrap that in an envelope; garnish it with a stamp; and you have it. Just don’t forget to drop your handwritten thank you notes in the mail.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

 

 

Punctuality: Just On Time Is Not Good Enough

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Lately I have begun to wonder if punctuality is my habit. Last week, I found myself racing to get to an appointment. It was then that I realized  this was not uncommon behavior for me.  Instead it’s a regular occurrence. While I am never late–well, almost never,  I tend to get where I am going just in time rather than on time.

Punctuality

Living in Savannah, I am aware of “Savannah time.” No one is expected to show up early for a meeting or an event.  If a meeting starts at ten o’clock, they arrive at ten o’clock, not a minute before. Others wander in at their leisure, sometimes with an apology and an excuse, but usually with little or no remorse. I feel myself on the verge of becoming one of those late-comers.

Indeed I do have an issue with punctuality. Maybe it’s really a matter of time management. Whatever, I don’t always practice what I preach.

I seem to think I can get one more thing done before I leave. In today’s fast-paced world, we always try to do more in less time. For example, if the phone rings just as I am walking out the door, I feel obligated to answer it. When I finally get in the car and check the clock; I realize that only with a bit of luck and all green lights, I may be on time.

Vince Lombardi on punctuality

Years ago I read a quote that is typically attributed to coaching icon Vince Lombardi. Regardless of who said it, the words have the same effect. “If you are five minutes early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, don’t bother to show up.”

The problem with being late

There are unintended consequences to being late. People who are chronically late send a message that their time is more valuable than other people’s. Those who don’t make an effort to be on time are seen as arrogant and inconsiderate. That sort of behavior won’t help your career or your business.

Suggestions to help you be on time and what to do when you aren’t.

Don’t stop to take the last phone call. You can check your voice mail later. If the call was important, the caller will have left a message.

Have everything you need for the meeting or event out and ready to go. Plan ahead so you aren’t scrambling around at the last minute trying to find one more thing—like your car keys or your cell phone.

Decide how long it will take you to get to the event and add some extra time. Allow for the unexpected like traffic jams, road construction and other unforeseen occurrences.

If you are not 100% sure where you are going, do a test run ahead of time if possible. No one will be impressed when you say you got lost. If you can’t check out the location in advance, again add in some extra travel time.

If the worst should happen and you enter the meeting late, quietly take a seat. This is no time to interrupt to make your apologies and to explain to everyone why you were late. No one really cares.

Check the agenda to see what items have already been covered. The late-comer who interrupts the meeting to ask about an issue that has already been discussed is never appreciated. Wait until the meeting is over to ask what you missed.

There is no excuse for being late. Barring true emergencies, being on time is completely within your control. Taking ownership of your time, knowing the importance of punctuality, and choosing never to be late again, is one easy thing you can do to change your life and career for the better.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. She is happy to work from home but has traveled as far as India and Dubai to help stamp out rudeness. Just think what a wonderful world it would be if people were simply nice. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Choosing Your Most Effective Email Closing

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You’ve worked hard crafting your email so that your message is clear, your tone is correct, your format is inviting, and you have eliminated all errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Now it’s time to decide on an email closing, and you’re stuck. All else being perfect, the way you sign off requires more than a little thought and finesse. It may only be a word or a phrase, but it needs to be well-chosen.

If you are struggling to find the most effective email closing, you are far from alone. Extensive research on this topic—and yes, I did the research—revealed that opinions on this topic are all over the map. In one article three email etiquette experts were asked their stance on a long list of email closings. The end result turned up little agreement among the three. No wonder you find this subject challenging.

Before you decide how to sign-off, you should consider your relationship to the recipient and the context of the email. What works for a good friend or close colleague most likely will not work for a business contact. What is appropriate for an initial email may come across as too formal as your connection develops.

Here are my suggestions on choosing your most effective email closing.

    1. Always use one. Not signing off is like walking out the door without saying good-bye. Too abrupt.
    2. Match your email closing to your salutation. This column devoted time some months ago to using effective and appropriate email salutations. A formal salutation requires a formal closing. An informal salutation should be followed by an informal closing.
    3. Consider using a closing statement in lieu of a closing word or two. Email tends to be more relaxed so once you have established a relationship with the recipient, you might end your email with something like, “Have a nice day”, “See you on Friday” or “Enjoy your vacation”.
    4. Be respectful but avoid “Respectfully/Respectfully yours”. According to Business Insider those closings are too formal and are to be reserved for government officials and clergy.
    5. Proceed gingerly when expressing thanks. Both “Thanks” and “Thank you” get high marks when used in the right circumstances. The Boomerang study found emails that convey appreciation receive the highest response rate. However, there are some people who think that writing “Thank you in advance” comes across as demanding and should be used with caution.
    6. Keep anything with religious overtones out of your professional correspondence. Avoid wishing someone a blessed day.
    7. Following your closing, let people know how you want to be addressed. If you want to be addressed by your first name, use only that in closing. If you prefer to keep things formal, sign off with your first and last name. If you are “Bill” and not “William”, now’s your chance to let that be known.

As always the goal is to be courteous, kind and respectful. Let your good sense and good judgment be your guide.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Phone Courtesy – Winning Customers Instantly

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Phone courtesy needs to be rule # 1. Often the first contact you and others  in your company have with a client or customer is over the phone. Whoever answers your phone represents the entire organization and its philosophy about customer service.Impress your callers when you practice these phone courtesy tips.

Answer the phone promptly.

We live in a world of instant expectations. If you don’t answer the phone immediately, people assume that you are either closed for the day, gone out of business or simply provide poor customer service. Answer the phone as soon as it rings and grab that customer before your competition does.

Always identify yourself .

One of the top complaints about phone manners is that people fail to give their name.  People want to know to whom they are speaking.

Be prepared with pen and paper.

Don’t make callers wait while you search for pencil and paper. If you aren’t prepared to take information, perhaps you aren’t prepared to do business.

Take accurate messages.

With voice mail, we don’t have to take messages as often as we once did, but it happens. If the caller asks you to take a message rather than being transferred to voice mail, check that you have written all the information correctly. Double check the spelling of the caller’s name and repeat the phone number as well as the wording of the message.

Transfer calls smoothly.

Most of us cringe at the words “Let me transfer your call.”  Avoid “blind transfers”. Ask the caller to hold while you confirm that you are sending the call to the right person and that the person is indeed available.

Manage the hold key with care.

Surveys on phone courtesy reveal that people rank being put on hold as their biggest frustration. Ask your callers’ permission before placing them on hold and wait to hear their reply. Not waiting for permission will gain you nothing but an annoyed caller.

Put a smile on your face when you answer the phone.

You may not feel cheery, but  your callers don’t need to know. Smiles change the tone of your voice and can actually be heard over the phone. Fake it if you have to. Fake smiles over the phone are just as good as the real ones.

At the end of the day, ask yourself what kind of impression you made with callers. Was it your best?  Remind yourself that there is no such thing as an unimportant phone call and that you are the voice of the business.

For more tips on, invest in Lydia’s easy-to read book, Business Etiquette 101 – Telephone Courtesy. It’s a quick download for your Kindle.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Wearing White After Labor Day–Yes or No

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White after Labor Day

Labor Day was early this year, falling on September 2nd. On that day, no one in Savannah, Georgia, where I live, was talking about the usual holiday celebrations like barbeques and picnics. The topic of the day was Hurricane Dorian. The question of the day was “Are you going to evacuate?” Now that Dorian is history and has passed safely off the coast of Georgia, mercifully sparing those of us in the Coastal Empire, the question of the day has become “Can I wear white after Labor Day?

The simple answer to that query is “Yes, you can.” In spite of what your mother and grandmother told you, it is perfectly acceptable to do so in 2019. Like so many other aspects of modern manners, the rules have changed. There is no need to rush to your closet and put away all things white until Memorial Day.

The old rule was never white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. So where did that directive originate? Who said we couldn’t show up wearing white after Labor Day? The answer seems to be shrouded in mystery.

Before you let those who are adamant about the rule intimidate you, you should learn why “don’t wear white after Labor Day” became one of the fashion commandments in the first place—and why it might no longer make sense to follow the rule. It had to do with the rich and famous or, at least, the wealthy urbanites of the Northeast in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s who abandoned their homes in the city and took to the comfort of their summer dwellings. At that time white signified a casual and cooler life. After Labor Day the elites returned to the city and donned their darker  more business-like attire, signifying that summer was over and it was time to get back to work.

A second and more practical reason for wearing white in the summer months is that it is cooler. It has nothing to do with affluence or class. In the era before air conditioning, people would wear white or light-colored clothing to prevent heat stroke. Sounds reasonable to me and still works.

Here are a few incentives, or maybe permissions, for wearing white after Labor Day.

  • White is a great neutral. It gives you countless outfit opportunities since it goes with practically everything.
  • It makes for an easier transition to the fall season if you don’t have to put up all of your summer pieces.
  • White is a classic in the fashion world. Coco Chanel is said to have worn white all year. You might say that it was part of her signature.
  • No one is actually going to judge you or we certainly hope not. Who knows, you might even inspire someone else.

Aren’t we just beyond the whole idea that there are hard and fast rules that you are not allowed to break even when it comes to etiquette and manners? Common sense, good judgment and universal courtesy should be your guide. Plus, September in the South is really hot, and why should white jeans be allowed on August 31 but not allowed on September 1st? We’re smarter than that.

Finally consider this—in the South, the season doesn’t actually change after Labor Day. It simply becomes summer with pumpkins.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

The State of the Email Salutation

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It’s possible that you are not aware of a raging debate online and in print regarding the proper email salutation. The controversy is not quite on the same level as the political debates, thank goodness;  but like those hurricanes some of us dread all summer long, it is growing in intensity and covering an ever-widening area.

A while ago I was contacted by the Wall Street Journal for an article titled “Hey, Folks: Here’s a Digital Requiem for a Dearly Departed Salutation”. That was followed by a call from a reporter at Forbes.com seeking my opinion on the use of “hi” vs. “dear” as an email salutation or greeting.  From the comments and responses in those articles, this topic stirred up quite a controversy. And it continues.

Opinions on the proper email salutation:

Those who were either interviewed or quoted in were adamant about their stance.  Some felt the word “dear” was old-fashioned and out-of-date.  One person said it was too “girlie” while another stated that it was extremely intimate. Yet another replied that using any salutation at all takes too much time to type. I’m no speed typist, but really? How long does it take to type two letters?

Opinions were all over the map. Many people who preferred “hello” over “hi.”  “Hey” did not seem to get any votes.  Maybe all those interviewed had a mother like mine who drilled into me that “hey” was not an appropriate greeting in any situation. “Hay is for horses” was her response to anyone saying “hey”.  As a Southerner, I have to admit that I use the word frequently as a verbal greeting with friends.  It’s as common as grits here in the Georgia.

My stance on the email salutation:

  1. One size does not fit all. Use the email salutation appropriate to the situation and the person to whom you are addressing your email. Context and familiarity dictate the salutation.
  2. Use “dear” in your initial correspondence with someone whom you have never met and with whom you are trying to establish a professional relationship. When in doubt, “dear” is always safe and should be the default greeting for any first communication
  3. Use “hi” or “hello” once you have established a comfortable relationship. “Hi” is viewed as relaxing and welcoming.
  4. Follow the lead of your client or customer. If the other person always uses “dear”, then so do you. If they begin their correspondence with you by saying “hi,” follow suit. As in all business situations, mimic your client.
  5. Use a salutation of some form. There is always enough time to be courteous. Launching your conversation without a greeting is the same online as it is in person. It’s abrupt.
  6. Along with your chose email salutation include the person’s name. However, never use anyone’s first name in business until and unless they give you permission. When people sign their email reply to you using their first name, that is a signal that you no longer need to use “Mr.” or Ms.”
  7. With friends you may be as informal as you like. If you frequently exchange email with certain friends and colleagues, there is no need to be formal. Nevertheless, I am a fan of a greeting of some sort even if it is simply starting off with your friend’s or co-worker’s first name.

Still confused? Let me summarize:

  • Although “Dear” is viewed as outmoded by some, it is a failsafe fall-back.
  • “Hello” followed by the person’s name, is also acceptable.
  • “Hi”, plus the name, has been on the rise for some time, and is considered standard in many situations.

At this point, I leave the email salutation to your good judgment. I feel confident that “dear” is not dead.  But I believe that we are going to see a lot more “hi” in our in-boxes.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker and trainer. She is the author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.