Monday, November 27, 2006

Signing Off

Another post inspired by a New York Times article, 'Yours Truly,' The E-Variations. The article talks about how one signs off on their e-mails, what's warm and fuzzy, what's a cool blow off.

So sometime ago, I received an email from a colleague that was signed simply B. B? I knew who it was from, and in fact, the "Yours Truly" closer was very friendly, but I was left to wonder, why B? B is an important and busy man and maybe he signed "B" because he was too busy to type out his whole name. B, I will tell you, is short for for Bob, and just how busy could he be? Does it really take less time to type B then Bob? Around that time, another friend wrote some newsy e-mails addressed to "D" and signed off by "C." Another soul too busy to type out his own name??? I was a bit put off; I always have time to spell out my own name and I began to feel that to do so sends out the message that I'm not that important, I have all the time in the world, everyone else is working harder than I am. Finally, I got an e-mail from "T." Now T is a long-time good friend, she was a college housemate and a bridesmaid at my wedding. At last, I had an 'in' into the workings of the mind of someone who signs with a single initial. So I asked, and T sent me a long reply, noting that signing with an initial could indicate someone too busy to type their whole name, or it could indicate a friendly informality... I know you so well that my whole name isn't necessary. This cast an entirely new light on things, and I no longer felt that B and C were flaunting their busy importantness, now they were my good friends! The e-world was suddenly a friendlier place.

The article in the NYTimes, well, it didn't say much new (other than it's uncool to sign off with "Don't let the bedbugs bite"), but I was pleased to see that someone else in the world obsesses about these things.



ClinkShrink said...

I saw that article & skimmed it but I didn't see the interpretation of the sign-off I was interested in---the emails with no signoff. I rarely ever put anything into my email other than the body of the message. No greeting, no closing, nothing but the 'meat' of the message. Emails aren't letters, I figure. They're more like natural conversation and natural conversation doesn't begin "Dear Dinah". Now I'm going to obsess that someone is going to interpret the fact that I don't put closings on my emails.

Oh well.

Sincerely yours,


Dinah said...

Dear Clink,
I have always held this against you.

Sarebear said...

I've noticed a couple people that sign off on their blog posts,

Peace, out.



It drives me nuts! It makes me think of them in a totally different way, and when I recently noticed a blog I have read for awhile, starting to do this, it really clashed with my internal view/feelings whatever about the blog/person.

I don't know why. It seems so . . . fake, or fake-ish . . . so CONTRIVED, I think.

So, "I'm hip, and trying to BE "hip" (but don't know I'm failing miserably)". Sorta like that, kinda.

Should I sign out,


I think not.

Sare-ish Bear-ish.

PG said...

Great post! I forwarded the link from that article on to a friend. He has been given shit in the past for his e-mail etiquette.

Sometimes I sign off with "cheers" - but it's pretty casual. My preferred closing is "thank you".

Steve & Barb said...

I see the foreshortened (or nonexistent) greeting and salutation as simultaneously an indicator of intimacy and respect for the recipient.

Intimacy, due to the reasons Dinah mention. The ultimate nickname.

Respect, because one is minimizing the amount of material the recipient must process. It shows respect for their time. This is more important for brief messages than longer ones -- in a brief message (eg, "ok, I'll meet you at 8"), a full greeting and salutation may be longer than the message itself. That's rather inefficient. A longer greeting sometimes saves time if it helps the recipient more quickly understands the intent of the message, or clarify right up front that this message is intended for YOU (which is why we tend to spend more time looking at junk mail addressed "Dear Roy" than "Dear Blogger").

But, in the end, I mostly agree with Clink. The email header already says who it is FROM and who it is TO, so repeating it either serves one of the above functions, or is repetitively redundant.

Dinah said...

So let me get this straight, Doc:
If I start my emails to you "Dear Roy" and end them with "Cheers, Dinah" this takes up time and is more than you can process? Maybe you should change your mental browser, download some processing software (try it requires less gigabytes than'll all go with either Safari or Flock so no need to worry; there are also several podcasts you can listen to in the shower.

Yours Truly,
Dr. WannabeGeek

PG said...

Or add a signature - and you'll only have to write a closing once.

DrivingMissMolly said...


First of all, my heart skipped a beat and then proceeded to sink down to my stomach when I read the title of the post, "Sign-Off." In the wake of Maria from Intueri's goodbye and SHP being MIA, I was sure that you rappers were leaving the blogosphere as well. You owe me an apology for such a scare!

Occasionally I will use initials to communicate, but it isn't because I am lazy or because of a lack of time, it is informality and casualness, just like, for example, my friend and co-worker calls me "L-Dawg" instead of Lily sometimes.

Anyway, D, it's no biggie in this instance. No disprespect was meant.

I do, however, hate text-message-y abbreviations such as "4" for "for" and "u" for "you" in e-mail so I guess it is a matter of personal preference.

Very truly yours,

DrivingMissMolly said...

Dear Shrink Rappers and assorted hangers-on;

Dinah, you're right. We all learned the proper way to write a letter in school and that includes a greeting and a closing. I think there is so little civility left in the world; what's a few more keystrokes?

It has bothered me the casualness with which we treat e-mail. We must remember that every e-mail we write represents US, therefore it whould represent us at our BEST, and that includes spell checking, proof-reading for clarity and punctuation, etc.

I will say that if you are hurriedly communcating with a co-worker about lunch, it is probably OK to just write the message if you are writing back and forth.

EXAMPLE: ME: "Hey, you hungry?"
YOU: Yeah. Let's go get some barbeque.
ME: Can you wait about 15 minutes til I finish this invoice?
ME: OK. Later, dude.

In this case the two e-mailing each other know each other well, so well, that this casualness is acceptable, but it should by no means be the template for everyday e-mailing.

Wither has politeness and gentle breeding gone?

In an era when starlets cannot be bothered to wear panties and are flashing everyone from photogs to the man on the street, a little etiquette is nice.

Later, Dawgs,


DrivingMissMolly said...

Dear Roy,

With all due respect, I do not understand your logic. If I write you a letter, since your name is outside on the envelope I don't need a greeting?

E-mails are letters.


Lily AKA L-Dawg or just L

HP said...

I always took the abbreviated name as a sign of friendliness, not laziness but then, I guess, it's dependent on who originated the email.

I definitely start and end my email, regardless of the To/From header. Formality may vary dependent on the recipient though.

HP (ha!)

ClinkShrink said...


I fixed your picture for you and you're welcome.

Warm regards,


There may be some gender-specific communication issues going on here. Psychologists who have studied this stuff (thinking specifically of Deborah Tannen) theorize that men communicate to solve problems while women communicate to maintain relationships. Therefore, men like Roy appreciate emails that are short and to the point without excess information. Women may prefer introductions and closures because they communicate something about the status of the relationship.

Which doesn't explain why I like the short & sweet emails.

Sarebear said...

You're just wierd, clink.

(insert joshing tone/smilie here 8^P)

I also was alarmed when I saw the Signing Off title in my blogreader. Was relieved to see it didn't mean what I thought it meant . . .

Intueri is on hiatus/gone?

AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaa I LOVE her writing, perspective, and stories!!!!

Dinah said...

To anyone who worried we were "signing off":

Thank you for your concern; we're still having fun here.

To ClinkShrink:
Don't go messing with my pics, I didn't want that one in. Oy.


ClinkShrink said...

That tiny little white square was driving me crazy so I enlarged it to a real picture. Thank goodness it's gone. I do like the other one better.

Soporifically yours,

Steve & Barb said...

Since the envelope and letter can get separated, my logic dictates including ID info on the enclosed letter. With email, the headers are ever-present, so why bother? In practice, I find that I will still include these in the body of my email maybe half the time. I've not thought about why, but main factors are likely the recipient and whether it is cc'd to others. But I'm sure I dropped the "Dear" long ago.

Signatures are wonderful inventions.

No worries. In fact, we are still working out the details of our first podcast. (I think we are hung up on the Cosmo's vs Mimosa's question.)

Good point on gender effects. That feels right to me. It would be an interesting study to look at emailing patterns between men and women.

What a great idea! Podcasts in the shower. I'll have to get me one of those speaker get-ups that you plug your ipod into.


Dinah said...

JW: I've been signing "Cheers" for over 20 years, no clue where I got it, I was a kid back then and liked that it was both warm and a bit different.

Roy: Ten bucks at Radio Shack, not the special IPOD designed ones, just any old little speakers; I know this from dressing my kid up as an IPOD for halloween last year-- we velcro'd on speakers so she'd have sound. I made her try on boxes at the UPS store and we took her IPOD to a paint store to have the pink IPOD color-matched: deemed the most embarrassing day of her life. She did look adorable.
Don't actually take them into the shower or we'll have Electrocuted Roy.

NeoNurseChic said...

Roy - I have an iPod mini, and my dad bought me speakers for it not long after I got it. This was when I had my bilateral knee surgery, and we were trying to reduce the amount of stuff I would take to Florida to spend time with my grandparents while learning how to walk again, so my mom suggested I get an ipod so I didn't have to bring my cds down. My dad got me the little speaker thing to go with it. It's facing backwards on my desk right now, and I don't feel like getting up to look at the brand name, but it only works with the ipod mini - my iPod sits right in the dock on it.

I love it! It's small, compact, and actually plays at a pretty good volume! I have a shelf in my bathroom where the window is, so sometimes I put the speakers/iPod there when I need music to get my morning started!

But if you don't want to buy an actual docking station for iPod - Dinah makes a good point. Any speakers will do - you just have to connect the jack from the iPod to the speakers and voila.

As for me, my emails generally start with, "Hiya *insert name here*" and almost always end with "Take care, my name" or "Hugz" - depends on who I'm writing to. For some people, I do not write any opening, and some people write back to me and don't put an opening... Some people sign the email with just an initial. In fact, I have one blog buddy who does that - and it's definitely a sign of friendship. I've always liked it. :)

Take care,
Carrie :) (See? Same as I always do! I have to include my closing here because I dont' like when people write back to my comments by addressing me as "NeoNurseChic" so I figure if I put my name in a closing, I have half a shot at getting them to address me by my actual name!)

Sarebear said...

for roy

Lost - some quantum physics going to come into play, I hear.

Steve & Barb said...

The 12 Tau's of Lost

Thanks, Sare. It's strange, I know, but I'll be sure to be up to get down with the next new Lost in February, after hitting bottom in January trying to stay on top of all the internet buzz -- that's part of the charm of Lost.

I'll have my new wireless headphones, so I'll listen with my Bose on. I'll have to glue on my eyes to the set, while remembering to keep my cat quiet (I hate when I forget to leave her mew on). Then I can forget about politics just for an hour. The city where I met Newt? Reno, that's it. (Hey, well, at least I didn't help elect Ron.)

It's all really quite elementary, you see.

Patient Anonymous said...

Wow, who would have guessed that one little initial would have caused such an uproar! This is kind of amusing and interesting at the same time.

I blame email and the fast paced sort of "instant communication."

Remember when we never had it and everyone actually *gasp* sat down and hand wrote letters to each other? I suppose there still could have been some "initialling" going on then but I suspect it still was considered "intimate" and perhaps "coy"--like some clandestine affair was happening and someone didn't want to have their identities revealed.

Okay, maybe I've been watching too many Merchant and Ivory productions or something.

Anyway, in business I will usually sign my first name with a "Thanks," or "Thank you," preceding (even if I do have a closing) but if I know someone, I may be more lax and do an intial as I've always seen it as a *wink* intimate/pal thing.

With close friends, I will usually do the initial, followed by X's and O's if they are in need of some care.

Note: Not signing anything here for fear of inflaming people! Not to mention, I'm Patient're not getting my name that easily *grin*