Do I need to "sign" my email message? They already know who it's from, right?
Email's official birthday is October 1971. Can you believe, these many years after, that we are still struggling with how to sign our messages? Should we write, "Regards"? "Sincerely"? "Best"? "Thanks"? Our name? Initials? Nothing?
When Generation Nexters ask their grandmothers, "Granny, what are letters?" she will explain they were email messages that were handwritten or keyboarded on paper. When she tells her grandchildren that every one of them had to be signed with "Sincerely yours," "Cordially yours," "Respectfully yours," and the like, they will stare at her in disbelief.
Recently, it has dawned upon most email writers that even using those valedictions mimic archaic typewritten letters too much. Many shortened it to just one word: "Sincerely," "Best," "Thanks," and the like. Nowadays, even that seems superfluous in more casual communicating.
So what about just signing your name? Most people think that sounds callous.
Let's Consult the Shrink from Cyberspace
For the answer to the burning question, "How shall we sign our emails?" we earthlings must summon the Great IT Man in the Sky to our planet. He is the cyber-psychiatrist who can answer perplexing psychological and ethical questions that come with the new technology.
The crowd stands, straining their necks to see Cyber Shrink's spaceship arrive. The moment he disembarks, there is a great crescendo of, "How should we sign our messages?"
Like all psychiatrists, he answers their question with a question: "Why must you have a closing to your message?"
"To pay deference to the receiver," someone shouts out. "To show respect," cries another. "It's so our messages have a friendlier ending."
"Yes," Cyber Shrink nods. He then points his finger in the air. "What is the sweetest sound in the English language to someone?"
"Their name?" the group asks.
He strokes his goatee and nods. "Yes, and that, my dear earthlings, is how you should sign your email."
A few of the more confident in the crowd cry out, "What do their names have to do with my signature?"
Cyber Shrink again responds with a question. "The whole point of your signature phrase is to show respect and close your message in a friendly way, right?"
The throng nods in unison.
"So simply end your message with a warm sentence that includes their name. It is even better if you can make their name the very last word in the body of the message. That gives them what I believe you humans call 'the fuzzies and warms.' Then your name isn't necessary.
"In all but the most formal messages," he adds, "you can put your initials to signal that is the end. Alternatively, if you are especially attached to your first name, I condone that as well."
The grateful assembly gasps, "Yes, yes! Thank you!"
The wise guru then climbs back aboard his spaceship. The crowd looks up to the sky and waves as Cyber Shrink vanishes back into the universe where our email gets lost.
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How should I sign my messages in 2009? Here is the solution from How to Instantly Connect with Anyone:
Sign YOUR message with THEIR name in the last sentence.
The whole point of your signature phrase is to show respect and close your message in a friendly way. So simply end it with a warm sentence that includes your recipient's name.
It is even better if you can make their name the very last word in the body of your message — the sweetest sound in the English language to them. They know who it's from anyway.
"Thanks so much for your help, Sarah."
"I'm looking forward to talking with you, Joy."
"Josh, it was lovely having dinner with you."
"Good going, George, you really impressed the client."
"It was a great meeting you, Maia."
Hearing their own name unexpectedly as the last word of your message makes them feel an instant connection with you.