“The times they are a-changin” as Bob Dylan so aptly pointed out in 1964. No where does it seem more obvious than in the world of etiquette. The time and effort that people used to spend on being courteous and respectful has diminished. We value informality more than formality. Take, for example, the use of “dear” as a salutation in email.
I was quoted in the Wall Street Journal today in an article titled Hey, Folks: Here’s a Digital Requiem for a Dearly Departed Salutation by Dionne Searcy addressing this topic. The range of opinions was extensive. My position was clear, and I am sticking to it. People who don’t start their initial business communication with “dear” lack polish and come across as abrupt. The use of “dear” in no way suggests intimacy in e-mail. On the contrary, it shows respect and professionalism. Be assured that I am not suggesting it is never appropriate to use less formal greetings such as “Hi”, “Hey,” or “Hello.”
Here are five tips to keep in mind when choosing which salutation to use:
- In an initial business communication always use “dear” and address your client by title and last name.
- Let the client take the lead on how formal or informal your communication is.
- As the client relationship becomes less formal, so should your salutation.
- When corresponding with international clients, always use a formal salutation and tone.
- When emailing family and friends, the choice is yours.
Email is fast and efficient, but it is also impersonal. It needs all the help it can get if you want to use it to build relationships. If your goal is to be recognized as a professional, then try adding the polish that builds profits.
Those are my thoughts, dear reader.
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.