15 Jun

Unwritten rules of communication

I had a bit of a mare over the weekend. At the end of a text to a friend, I sent ‘xx’ by mistake. I froze on the spot. It was awful. I didn’t know what to do.

To explain: to my mind, there are unwritten rules when it comes to sending kisses at the end of texts (or emails… or Facebook messages).
X = a friend
XX = a partner/lover/spouse
XXX = family

X is quick and fleeting.
XX means more thought has gone into it, and it’s kinda intimate.
XXX means you’re going overboard – which is ideal when replying to family members.

If you muddle up the number of X’s you send, you do so at your peril.

Similarly, email sign-offs can be a nightmare.

In an ideal world, I’d like to sign off all emails with ‘Best wishes’, or – better still – ‘Best’… but it depends how well you know the person you’re emailing, and the purpose of your email.

I wouldn’t send an email ending ‘Best wishes / Best’ to a brand new client, or an agency I was seeking contract work from.

Then you’ve got ‘Thanks’, which I consider fairly neutral and inoffensive, but not ideal for formal communication (plus there has to be something to say ‘thanks’ for).

‘Regards’ – I don’t like this ending. I avoid it at all costs. It’s utterly soulless, and almost comes across as passive aggressive (it’s the kind of sign-off I’d use, out of petulance, if appealing against a parking ticket).

‘Kind regards’ is okay, but really boring and a little corporate: it screams ‘I can’t think how to end my email, so our company uses this phrase’.
Seriously – when have you ever used ‘kind regards’ in everyday speech?
Oh, and ‘Yours Sincerely’: I’ve only ever seen this used in letters, but – that aside – I’ve also only ever used it when I’m not being sincere in the slightest.

In a professional capacity, I only ever use ‘cheers’ (written or verbal) once I know a client/supplier and we have an established relationship.
Up until that point, I say/write ‘thanks/thank you’.

I’m sure there are plenty of other unwritten rules (which I’ve now written…), but that’ll do for now.
If you can think of any more, please let me know.

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