Your best stinks
A closing salutation in email that has grown to become a top-of-the-list pet peeve of mine is “Best,” I see it and I think, “Really?” To me, closing with “Best” comes off as nothing short of inconsiderate and flippant. Are you telling me that I’m the best? Are you too important and strapped for time that you can’t finish typing “Best wishes,” “My best,” or “Best regards,”? When I see “Best,” and I imagine your conversation in a face-to-face setting, I picture you smacking gum and trying to remember if you set your TiVo to record a season pass of Jersey Shore instead of genuinely engaging yourself in the conversation.
A few years ago I decided I’d just be myself in email. Email inherently lacks tone and inflection, so I like to let folks know of my perpetual lighter side. I’ve had so many conversations via email that just seemed to portray both sides as fake. Whenever the conversation(s) carried over into a phone call or a face-to-face meeting, it’s like I was talking to the person for the very first time. Like we’d never exchanged any kind of words in the past. I didn’t like the feeling on my side of being insincere and disingenuous. A client, colleague, friend or family member should and will know me for who I am. I’m not the kind of person who writes you off in a closing by saying “Best, Josh.” Where applicable and in most cases, I’ll always be professional. Usually I’ll use the old stand-bys like “Thanks,” or “Cheers,” (I usually use the latter when I’m typing in my British accent), but by and large, you’re getting a piece of me in the email I’m sending to you. You should feel special for playing such a integral part in the contribution to my carpal tunnel syndrome.
In recent months when corresponding with colleagues via email, I started closing my emails with off-the-wall photos. Nothing offensive, but something that would, in my hopes, brighten someone’s day by garnering a chortle. For instance, I was replying to a coworker’s email one morning after we’d collectively solved a problem. In closing, I said, “Happy Friday! Here’s a picture of a guy playing a guitar with a rabbit on his head.” I don’t know why a photo of a guy playing guitar with a rabbit on his head came to mind, but it did, and I decided to include it in the closing of my email (Google Images is your friend). It was completely off the wall, irrelevant and sporadic. My colleague wrote me back and said, “That just made my day!”
If you’re going to try to be cute with your closing salutation, be clever. Make someone laugh or at least scratch their head. Sign off with something like “Cottage cheese,” or “Graham cracker airplane,” Life’s too short to be arrogant and distant.
Best isn’t the best.