Tuesday, 19 June 2012

So long, farewell

The means we have for communicating in writing have blossomed over the last couple of decades. When I was at university it was letters or telegrams. We may have lost those exciting little brown envelopes that brought  news of disaster and triumph, but we've added email, text messaging and so much more. Which leads me to ponder the ways we sign off when writing.

In formal letters it's easy - Yours sincerely if it's a named person you are writing to and Yours faithfully if it's not. But informal letters and particularly these quicker, easier means of written communication of today bring with them a whole host of options for how to end. Even text messages have this: do you end with a kiss or not? My (female) family expect this. In fact the number of kisses acts as a kind of emoticon. No kisses - you're in trouble. One or two - ordinary communication. Lots of kisses - either 'I want something' or 'Thank you so much!' But those kisses are so dangerous. Because 90+% of my texts are to said family members it's so easy to nearly add a kiss to a text to a business colleague, or to a tweet, where it simply isn't what I want to do.

And then there are the endings for emails and other longer communications. They too carry a hidden baggage of subtle secret messages. Here is my attempt to decode them:
  • Best regards - Straightforward, neutral sign off
  • Kindest regards - I don't really know you, but I want to appear rather formally pleasant
  • Get stuffed - This is probably the end of our conversation
  • Bye - In a hurry, but want to appear chatty and friendly
  • Cheerio - Just off to have a picnic, washed down with lashings of ginger beer
  • Best wishes - We aren't just business colleagues, we are social colleagues
  • Cheers - I know we're quite close, but it would be embarrassing to say anything else
  • All the best - One of my favourites: an affectionate farewell without being sloppy
  • Love - For girlies
  • Lots of love - For people you fancy or very close family
So there we have it. It's quite difficult to end anything, letter or email or even blog post.

Keep smiling,
Brian xx


  1. Thanks to Dirk vom Lehn for pointing out a key omission from my list of definitions:

    Best - I am a really busy person and haven't time to type a full phrase

  2. Just been investigating my past correspondence.... I don't use anything, not even a kiss to the family; just a full stop then my name. What does that say? Does it make me super efficient or bone idle?