By midday, you’ve probably sent fifty emails, using ten different signoffs, ranging from emojis and kisses to your office BFF, to a “Kind Regards” to your scary manager, and then, to everyone else, a simple “Best”. “Best” is best, right?
Wrong. The succinct, timeless email signoff is now being trashed as “vulgarised and lazy”. A Bloomberg report said that “Best” is safe and inoffensive, but also “completely and unnecessarily ubiquitous” – and in another series of affronts, "Best" was called “charmless, pallid, impersonal, or abrupt”.
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, careers expert and PR director, told i100.co.uk that the now omnipresent use of “Best” reflects our tendency to talk in “text-speak” and dumb down the English language.
“In general, the tone we see used in emails today is more relaxed than it once was. Part of the reason for this, I believe, is the increased popularisation of so-called ‘text-speak’. This has had the effect of diluting and, arguably, dumbing down the language we use,” he said. “Ten years ago, for instance, few (if any) emails would end with ‘BW” (‘Best wishes’) or “KR” (‘Kind regards’), yet these are widely used today.”
“‘Best’ is another that has seen a rise in use over the last few years, but ‘best’ what?” he added. “It hangs in the air leaving the recipient waiting with bated breath as to what is to come. Some people leave off any closing noun altogether.”
So how should we end our emails then, if “Best” is lazy, “Yours sincerely” is too formal and “Cheers” is too merry?
According to one etiquette expert, William Hanson, it’s best to sign off with a simple “Thanks so much” – but he also recommended ending emails with “With every best wish” or “With all good wishes”, which just sounds rather time-consuming and overly formal when sending multiple emails to the colleague who sits beside you.
According to the original Bloomberg report, it’s best to end your email with nothing at all. After all, with texting, Facebook messaging and office chatting software like Slack more widespread, who really needs a formal signoff?
“When you put the closing, it feels disingenuous or self-conscious each time,” Liz Danzico, creative director at NPR, argued. “It’s not reflective of the normal way we have conversation.” Barbara Pachter, a business etiquette coach, agreed: “Texting has made e-mail even more informal than it is”.
So next time you’re trawling through the hundreds of messages in your inbox, think of all the time you’ll save just signing off with a full-stop. No name, no formal goodbye, no “Best”. Never “Best”. “Best” is worst.
Photos: Rex Features