What Your Email Sign-Off Really Means

The endings of emails: translated
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Among our tragic first-world problems, email sign-offs don’t get enough attention. Most are awkward phrases or loaded words that evoke a response opposite of what’s intended. You know this already. You know it because when you come to the end of a work email sometimes you stop and think, “How do I end this electronic message in a manner that does not convey that I am aggressive or passive-aggressive or fake-British?”

Maybe you have a go-to sign-off. Whatever it is, you ought to know that it’s terrible, and everyone hates it. There is only one proper way to sign off an email—and we’ll get to that in a minute.


Best
I am more important than you. You see, I’m wishing you the best because I have some best to give. I am overflowing with best. I am made of best. You? You are lacking in best. You have no best. You’re best-less. Sans best. Here, have some of my best.

Thanks  
If you had done your job correctly, I wouldn’t have to send this email.

Thanks!
You will never know how I actually feel about you. Ever.

Thx
I’m super busy—too super busy to spell whole words—and finding T, H and X on the keyboard actually takes longer than spelling the word “thanks.” For my ego’s sake I have made this email signoff an email signoff of lies.

Cheers
I wouldn’t know you if you punched me in the face right now.

Talk Soon
If I actually wanted to talk to you I wouldn’t have sent an email.

Regards
I apologize for this intrusion into your sad life.

TTYL
My pug has his own Instagram account.

Take Care
We’re all going to die. Don’t let it be today. You have a lot of work due.

Ciao!
I went to Italy once!

Blessings
I’m a grown adult who owns a Drake poster.

Peace
This is a thing the kids say, right? Peace? That’s a thing?

Lates
It would be no great loss to society if I died silently in my sleep tonight.

Sincerely
HR made me send you this email so I wouldn’t be fired.

Inspirational Quotes
There is an abyss inside me that no amount of success or love or Crossfit will ever fill.


What’s the best way to end an email?

Nothing

You don’t need to sign an email. The receiver already knows who sent it. Your name is the first thing the reader sees in the inbox. It’s not like emails are so long and complicated that you get to the end and wonder, “Who wrote this? Oh, right! Good thing they signed their name at the end. I forgot who sent it from four seconds ago. They sent their best? Oh, isn’t that lovely! I am so lacking in best.”

Many people will argue that no sign-off at all is too cold. Better cold than 1.) a word you use so often it has no meaning for the sender or receiver (and isn’t indifference the coldest cold of all?) 2.) a word that can be misinterpreted because we’re all fragile human-mice whose biases and behaviors have not evolved from our tribal hunter-gatherer beginnings.

But if you have to put something at the end of your email…

Your Initials

It’s authoritative yet personal. Formal yet relaxed. Added bonus: gives every email an air of, “And I damn well mean it.” If you’re wasting my time with an email, you better damn well mean it.

Cheers, 

Joe


Joe Donatelli is Senior Writer at Los Angeles magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @joedonatelli and Facebook.

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