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The best and worst ways to sign off a work email

email, signoff, valediction, farewell, goodbye, email etiquette

When it comes to email sign-offs, you should try to end on a high note or at least not write something off-putting.

You don’t want to lose sleep over the valediction on your work email, but it does matter. It’s your parting shot. It’s also your chance to be a little personal. So, what’s the strongest way to sign-off?

If you’re Jamie Dimon, it seems you’ll say nothing – just “Jamie.” The same goes for Lloyd Blankfein, who simply signs-off “Lloyd.” 

This doesn’t mean you can get away with this, however.

“For your work email signoff, don’t make it too personal and therefore strange, or too casual,” says Hallie Crawford, the founder of HallieCrawford.com Career Coaching.

Context matters, a lot.

“If you do not know the person well, it’s best to avoid overly casual communication so it is not misinterpreted,” says Alyssa Gelbard, the president of Resume Strategists, a personal branding and executive career consultancy.

We conducted an informal poll of bankers, recruiters and career coaches to find out their favorite ways to end emails. This is what we learned.

Most popular: No valediction at all

Lloyd and Jamie are onto something. Experienced Wall Streeters told us they don’t go for “Warmest regards,” “Yours faithfully” or any other cliché. They just end their email and have it roll right into their signature.

“It says you’re all business,” claims one former investment banker, who picked it up from his boss. “It’s intimidating and makes you move,” he adds.

Be warned, however, ending abruptly can be intimidating. A lack of closing can be misinterpreted as not caring, disinterested or even disrespectful, says Gelbard.

“Taking the time to type a few extra characters and write a decent email sign-off can help prevent misinterpretation by the recipient,” she adds. “The message having no closing salutation sends is that since you weren’t interested in taking any time to type a close, that perhaps you don’t care that much about the email subject or recipient.”

Safe: “Best regards” 

This is Wall Streeters’ second choice. “Best” or “Best regards” is vanilla enough to not say much about you or your relationship with the email recipient. It’s “safe” – not too casual nor too formal. A simple “Regards” is in the same camp. Some people like “Warm regards” too.

One of these is a good option when you don’t know a person well, but want to be safe and friendly, says Gelbard.

Outdated: “Sincerely/Very Truly Yours”

“What, are you living in the 19th century?” said another banker. “Sincerely,” “Yours truly,” “Sincerely yours” and “Very truly yours” are old, stodgy and overly formal. “Maybe for a cover letter, but not in the office.”

Only if you’re in the U.K.: “Cheers”

Cheers might be OK if you’re working in the City of London and don’t mind being perceived as a ‘geezer.’

Only if you’re in Italy: “Ciao”

If English is your first language, then you risk sounding a bit pretentious, but some people may be able to pull it off.

Only for the young and inexperienced: “Thanks” and “Thank you”

Unless you want to stamp “young and inexperienced” on your forehead, steer clear of thanking everyone under the sun in emails. It’s overly gracious and, worse, it “exudes weakness,” says one VP at an investment bank. Avoid “Thanks for your consideration.” Constantly thanking someone in work exchanges subconsciously places you on the bottom rung. “Looking forward to hearing from you” gives off a similarly weak vibe.

“And whatever you do, no exclamation points,” he adds.

If you know the person reasonably well: “Looking forward,” “Speak with you soon” or “Take care”

These are not super-formal, but they are totally inoffensive. A slightly less formal version is “Talk soon.”

Other tips:

  • Have a strong closing sentence: “Take the time to write a closing sentence that includes an action item, deadline you will meet or reference to a next step, and sign it, sincerely or best regards or thank you again,” says Crawford. “Be more formal than less formal in this case.”
  • Avoid abbreviations: Another pitfall to avoid is using emojis, XOXO or abbreviations like “lmk,” “ttyl,” “tafn” or “lol,” or even “Rgds.” or “Thx.” Come on, you only need to type a few characters more to complete the word!
  • Smell ya later: Along those same lines, avoid anything that’s too informal or jokey, like “Hasta la vista, baby.” Not everyone has a sense of humor, especially in a professional context. “See ya, bye or anything informal like that which you would write to a friend in a text [message] is a no-no,” Crawford said.

Photo credit: BrianAJackson/GettyImages

Comments (24)

Comments
  1. It depends who you are working with and if it is the only email you will send them that week.

    Peace-out knee-grow is perfectly acceptable if you are doing some equity analysis on a South London drugs cartel that wants to formalise the equity stakes of its bredren, for example.

  2. ‘Places you on the bottom rung’…Really?? What a sad state of affairs for the industry. Keep it real…I always use ‘Thanks,’…it’s a must…I’m Canadian!

  3. What ever you decide to use be quick and original, nothing works as well, BUT PLEASE don’t end every email with “Thanks so much!”

  4. This is absolutly insane. If manners are an issue…BRING em on! I don’t care who you are, Text msgs and emails will never be anything different from a standard formal letter. Read your email twice. If your working with people that judge you from text or emails……These tools have been elevated far beyond. I will respond to your text and email when time permits. If you have any values or treat anyone with any sense of worth, you will pick up the phone or contact us directly.

  5. I have to give a second to Equivocation’s post. If you have to yell or scream, you are not an employer, you are a tyrant. The folks that really have the power do not need to belittle or be rude. They are overall extremely nice, polite, we’ll-mannered gentlemen and women. Those with real power are courteous as they know the value of manners. You do jot realize it, but a simple thank you actually goes a long way to accomplishing what you want. Do YOU want to go the extra mile for someone you know will not appreciate it? I know I certainly will not, and the key to power is getting other people to do what you want willingly.

  6. When I first started a new job, I noticed that everyone used the valediction “Regards”. I thought it was odd until I figured out that the CEO used that term and so these morons were all copying him thinking that would get them ahead in the company. NOT! It only showed that they were too stupid to be original.

  7. If folks are concerned about how I sign off on my e-mail’s, or how I do it somehow qualifies me or disqualifies me as being powerful, well then there’s a new definition to petty. For real.

  8. I am certainly not young (except at heart!!) or inexperienced! I do, however, think that thanking people elevates one, not puts that them on the bottom rung! People like to be appreciated!!!!!!!

  9. Absolutely feel free to thank people!! Most bankers do not have a problem of looking “weak”, but rather the opposite. Being abrassive is bad for business. The best senior bankers I know are polite and gracious (even when they don’t mean it)

    If you truly have power you do not need to to push people around directly (much less yell at them). They already know they have to jump through hoops for you. If you thank them for doing what they already know they have to do, then you create rapport and improve team spirit.

    Plus, it gives you another arrow in your quiver. When I write a curt email, people know they are on probation without me having to raise my voice or give further explanations.

    Anger, screaming and hostility are all signs of weakness.

  10. I am certainly not young and inexperienced but I do think that thanking people puts one at the top of the rung, not at the bottom. People like to be appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Evidently for those who work on Wall St. courtesy and manners are not principle values. I do thank readers of my emails if they have responded to a request or helped with an issue or problem, to do otherwise is crude and impolite.

  12. Depends on the situation. If communicating work with someone you interact with frequently, no sign off is necessary. If you receive a schedule, the sender appreciates at least an “OK” to know you’ve received the message. If someone gives you a valuable headsup, you can say something like “Appreciate the notice” so they’ll feel like being helpful again. Be a genuine nice person while not wasting your own and other’s time.

  13. If this is genuine then the guy who does not sign off for that reason is a delusional no-mark. Whatever next.
    Best love and cuddles
    JimBob

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