How have you been writing your work emails lately? While it’s not a new habit, the opener “I hope this email finds you well” — sometimes extended with a phrase like “in these difficult times” — has become so common in the time of coronavirus that it’s inspired many funny tweets. (One of my favorites: “‘i hope this email finds you,’ she threatened.” Corporette readers were even devising a drinking game around such phrases the other day!) The line can sound rote and insincere, but when you consider the possibility that the person you’re emailing may be sick, caring for a sick family member, dealing with coronavirus-related mental health issues, and so on, it can feel odd to jump right into the business at hand. Readers, do tell: How have you been handling this issue in your emails lately?
For those who don’t fit into the categories of coworkers or friends, such as casual acquaintances or people I’ve corresponded with before, I’ve frequently been starting emails with a line like “I hope you [and your family] are doing OK.” I feel like it acknowledges the situation we’re all in without coming off as “I hope you’re doing great!” … because there’s a good chance they’re not. Really, there’s no perfect solution for this.
Another question: How have you been wrapping up your emails? In pre-pandemic times, unless I signed off with some version of “Thanks,” I often wrote, “Have a great week,” “Have a great weekend,” and so on. Many of us are clearly not having a “great” anything right now, so (to me at least), it feels kind of strange to write (or receive) that message. My usual email closer is now “Be well” — I can’t count the number of times I’ve written it lately. I hope it seems genuine to the recipients, because it is. “Take care” and “Stay safe” are two other options that I’ve seen, but they may not sound professional enough for some business situations.
How have you been opening and signing your emails during the pandemic? Does it depend on whether you’re writing to a colleague you already know versus someone you’ve never met or spoken with before?
- “Hope You’re Well”: Emailing Through a Time of Pandemic [WIRED]
- Will Coronavirus Finally End the Scourge of “I Hope This Email Finds You Well”? [MEL Magazine]
- Unpleasantries: Don’t Start an Email With “I Hope This Finds You Well” [Observer] (pre-coronavirus)
- 5 Better Alternatives to “I Hope This Email Finds You Well” [Grammarly] (pre-coronavirus)
Stock photo via Deposit Photos / evrmmnt.