Wolfestone Translation HR Manager

Comment:  HR Manager Emma Hughes

Over the last three years working for Wolfestone, I have noticed that people are increasingly opting for more informal language in email correspondence.  Gone are the days of receiving an email starting ‘Dear Mrs Hughes’, I’m more likely now to receive ‘Hi Emma’ or sometimes no greeting at all!

When advertising job vacancies I have been getting more and more surprised with the amount of people that will apply for a job without even writing any text at all in the body of the email! Those that do write something tend to ignore a greeting altogether and simply say, ‘Please find attached my application’. This kind of communication sends alarm bells ringing, that perhaps candidates have no idea how to correspond in a professional environment.  As far as I’m concerned, that puts them in the no pile.

Sometimes I question my own principles.  Perhaps times have changed and the use of ‘dear’ is no longer en vogue in the business world. I often receive emails from business professionals who do the same thing. Perhaps using ‘Hi’ or ‘hello’ is now the preferred way to communicate and ‘dear’ is old fashioned.

Perhaps the question is best answered by investigating the purpose of email. 

While email may have originally replaced the letter as a form of communication, it is now being infiltrated by text-speak and become less formal.

I think the invention of smartphones is to blame.  I have become used to seeing ‘sent by my smartphone’ at the end of emails, as some extremely busy business person pings off a response en route to the next meeting.  People now seem to take as much care over email it as they would a text message, and this has surely led to the less formal approach.

My own opinion?  As you may have guessed I am very much in favour of a return to properly constructed emails and would like to encourage you all to put a little bit more effort into your emails. Especially to me!

Do you agree that email has become too relaxed?  Please leave us your comments below.

 

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  • Silke Lührmann

    Dear Mrs Hughes,

    I appreciate and applaud your concerns about the decline of professional communication and the rudeness of e-mails without any salutation at all. However, I must admit that the informal “Hi Emma” culture has always ranked very highly among the things I like best about living in the UK…
    Read more at http://www.wolfestone.co.uk/blog/uncategorized/dear-mrs-hughes.html

  • Mrs Hughes,
    I’m not a native of English but I do have a comment with regards to the translation of “dear” into French.
    In French, “cher/chère” used to be the formal way to address people who one would actually know in person (so they could actually be dear to you in another way than just representing potential money to be made).
    If you did not know the person, you would stick to “M.” or “Mme” + surname (or Mlle if you knew the female was not married). But you would not include the first name, which you should use only when the person would have authorised you to do so (“on n’a pas gardé les cochons ensemble, que diable!”)
    But English being the language of business and due to its informal way of addressing people, it has influenced French business and “cher/chère” seems to be making its way into French supposedly formal business letters.
    My French bank, for instance, addresses me as “Cher Mr Pierre Fuentes”. I’ve never met the guy who drafts these letters and I certainly don’t feel in any way dear to him (or conversely, him dear to me). Furthermore, “Mr” is English, a fact that many French drafters of business letters seem to have forgotten (in French, a male customer is a “Monsieur”, not a “Mister”, hence the “M.”, not a “Mr”).
    As for emails, I don’t think it has become relaxed. It is just another story. An email is a hybrid of a letter and of an ongoing live conversation. If you are really interested, I suggest you check the academic research published on the topic of politeness, pragmatics and social media.
    Confraternellement,
    Pierre Fuentes.

    • Thanks so much for your comments Pierre, its interesting to hear how communication is evolving in other languages and even more interesting to hear how much English is actually influencing the process.

      As a graduate of French language, I have always been taught to use Cher/Chere but was not aware of the use of it in business language, I am also surprised to hear that ‘Mr’ is now being used!

      I have also always considered the email a direct online replacement for a letter but your viewpoint of it being a hybrid of a letter and a live conversation is really interesting and helps me to come to terms with the more informal approach!

  • Bethan

    Dear Mrs Hughes,
    I think ‘Dear’ should certainly be used for initial contact (job applications etc) but ‘hi/hello’ is perfectly acceptable once a working relationship has been established. Part of this may be due to Skype as well as text/smart phones. I would never use ‘dear’ on Skype which is much more conversational and often emails follow Skype conversations, both in content and tone.
    How do you like emails to end? Some of my clients being with ‘hi’ and end with ‘regards’ which seems a little mismatched to me.
    (insert appropriate closing phrase)
    Bethan

  • Hi Bethan,

    That is a really good point. I also think that once the initial ‘dear’ is out of the way and the relationship has been established then using ‘hi’ is fine. However, I often use ‘hi’ and then end with ‘best regards’ as its already in my email signature. This may seem a little confused. Does anyone have any suggestions for what matches ‘hi’ to close an email?

    Awaiting suggestions,

    Emma