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Ending e-mails insincerely.

By Alice Jones/London/ The Independent Does anything bring on the desire to thunk head on desk like mistakenly putting three kisses on the end of an e-mail to your boss? I think not. It's the adult equivalent of calling your teacher " Mummy" at school, a cheek-burning slip up that you won't be allowed to forget in a hurry. It has ruled the workplace for the past 20 years, but e-mail is still a fraught business. Think of all of the incriminating messages read out in courtrooms, the sexy love notes that go viral, the number of times you cc the only person you meant to avoid. Most perilous of all is the sign-off. The options are bewildering -- " Best wishes", or simply "Best"? Is it rude to shun an unwanted kiss? Strangely, for a means of communication based on efficiency, false fulsomeness rules. Why offer a limp "See you soon" when you could give your "Warmest regards", your "Very best" or thank someone "A million"? And forget about LOL -- it's a minefield, as David Cameron knows. Last week, the New York writer Matthew Malady called for an amnesty on the "totally unnecessary words that we tack on to the end of e-mails". We should, he said, simply end our e-mails "with the actual last thing we want to say". It sounds sensible until you consider that what's at stake is a simple "hello" at the start and a name at the end. Is any life so busy, so streamlined, that two words make a difference? Well, yes. If life is too busy to stand up and walk across the office to ask a colleague a question in person, it's probably too busy for social niceties, too. But that doesn't make it right. Debrett's warns that e-mails can be stored, shared and printed out to live on, just like ink and paper. Therefore, it advises, e-mailers should "aim to stick as closely as possible to the conventions of traditional letter-writing". "Yours sincerely" may be too cumbersome to type, but it would be a shame if Gmail killed the sign-off. After all, a good goodbye is worth a thousand words. Just look at how Benjamin Franklin socked it to his one-time friend William Strahan in 1775: "You and I were long Friends: -- You are now my Enemy, -- and I am, Yours. B Franklin."

Gulf Times Newspaper 2013

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Date:Mar 30, 2013
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