If every email is different, why do so many of them begin the same way? Here’s an aggregated list of opening lines you should steer clear of in your emails.
1. “Dear Sir or Madam”
Don’t even try this one.
Plus, this salutation tells the recipient that you have no idea who they are, says Pachter. “Why then should the reader be interested in what you have to say?” the publication reads.
Think about it: How would you feel if you received an email that addressed you like this?
2. “I thought I would circle back …”
This one’s a classic. How many times have we all fallen into this trap, either in writing or during a conversation with a colleague?
Here’s why he says you should leave this out of your emails: “Yes, because I didn’t respond the first time you emailed. But why will I respond this time … especially when the rest of your email is just copied and pasted from your original email?”
3. “To whom it may concern”
“This, ‘Dear Sir,’ ‘Dear Madam,’ and other impersonal greetings are a great way to get your email promptly deleted. It’s suggestive of spam and immediately signals to recipients that you don’t know them — and therefore that they don’t know you,” he writes. “That doesn’t help get the rest of the message read. It also makes it seem like you’re too lazy to find out a name or that you’re mass mailing indiscriminately.”
4. "Happy Monday!"
Ahhh, Monday — this is a sugarcoated reminder that it’s the toughest day of the workweek.
Jenni Maier, Editor-In-Chief of The Daily Muse, explains why to never say Happy Monday “or, alternatively, insert any other day of the week in there. The effect remains the same and you still want to die inside a little bit every time you find yourself wishing it. Happy [blank] is for holidays, like your birthday or Christmas — not for a day of the week that comes around every seven days without fail.”
Here’s her translation of Happy Monday!: “I’m about to ask you for something, but I feel uncomfortable diving right into it. So I shall say something kind and friendly instead.”
One of her suggested alternatives is, “Hope your week’s off to a good start.”
5. “You don’t know me, but…”
Laura Spencer, a business author and copywriter, writes on Envato Tuts+, a site offering tutorials and courses on the web, about why this isn’t a good way to begin an email. After pointing out that it’s “unnecessary” to emphasize that you’re a stranger, she mentions that you should “get to the point instead.”
She recommends this alternative: “I’m writing to you today to invite you to the annual company meeting on July 5.”
— Jane Burnett
This article was first published on February 26, 2018 on Ladders.