Regards. Best. Love.

Regards. Best. Love.

How to email at work

I completely loved this video from the Wall Street Journal, talking about the way that women ‘choose’ (more of which later) to communicate at work. Their use of perky exclamation marks. “Thanks!”, “That’s perfect!”. The passivity “I was wondering whether you would possibly mind perhaps taking the notes at the meeting?” All of which is designed to make women seem less threatening. Not cold and austere. Warm. Deferent. Feminine?

What email sign off to use?

I remember prevaricating for hours when I first started at work about how to sign off my emails.

  • Regards - a bit cold. A bit senior. Who does she think she is?

  • Best wishes - too personal.

  • From/Yours sincerely - just don’t work on email

  • Yours - weird, potentially flirtatious, overloaded with risk.

  • Best regards - bit bland, bit desperate?

  • Kind regards - mild, inoffensive.

  • Thanks - doesn’t work for every email.

  • No sign off - arrogant. Who does she think she is?

In the end, after much to-ing and deleting, I chose “Best regards” with an extra layer of “Many thanks for your help” as a general rule. Not very me, but definitely the corporate, more establishment me. On my return to the corporate world, I’ve gone through this whole rigmarole in a minor way again. Settling right back into the ‘Best regards’ rhythm, but now with the occasional ‘Cheers’ and ‘Thanks’ thrown in.

Obviously when I think about it it’s complete bollocks. And certainly my four-year break from the corporate world helped to de-institutionalise me to a certain extent. I swear in meetings occasionally. I speak up much more when I disagree with something. I don’t wear a suit to work (and not just because I can’t fit in to them anymore post kids…). But I still find it tricky to be completely ‘non-corporate’ in written form. It feels a bit too risky somehow.

Why do we edit ourselves like this?

Clearly I don’t have a universal answer to this question. For me it is certainly about not standing out in a way that anyone (and I wouldn’t narrow it down necessarily to men, it’s just where I work is dominated by men) would find irritating, or above myself. I want my work to stand out for how good it is on an equal playing field, so I worry about drawing attention to the fact that I have a pair of tits with an ill-advised ‘Best’. It’s a complete focus on ‘fitting in’. I’m not even sure I need to worry about it.

The joy of working with small businesses

It is when I’m working with small businesses that I feel I have the real power to be authentic in the way I communicate, and not just in a trendy ‘authentic is so hot right now’ kind of way. I can talk and write however I want to my clients about their businesses, and I can be myself. It’s their choice whether they want to work with me or not, and those relationships are so important to me (and to them and their business), that if we don’t ‘fit’ then it’s absolutely for the best if that leads to them choosing not to proceed.

So how do you sign off your emails? Do they differ when you’re writing to men or women? Am I overthinking this (probably)?

Regards. Best. Love