The Worst Email Openings To Avoid (And What They Really Mean)

Email is part of our everyday life now, and knowing how best to communicate through emails will help you 1) not seem like a total noob at work and 2) help you influence your recipient’s response to what you write. The worst email openings are archaic, strange, or let people know you don’t enjoy your job that much.

Think about these email openings and what you should avoid.

#1 “Happy Monday!”

Seriously, is anyone happy first thing on a Monday morning? Even if you are, this greeting could be misconstrued as being facetious or disingenuous. Not a great way to start off your communication.

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#2 “Happy Friday!”

Similarly, don’t seem too keen for the week to be ending. If  you think about it, this email greeting really means, “Thank god I don’t need to turn up to this place tomorrow”. Doesn’t send a great message, does it?

#3 “Hi”

This is one to avoid if it stops at “Hi”. It’s abrupt and, while it’s to the point, it may come across as aggressive or short. It could be interpreted as sass on par with the worst closing lines in emails.

On the flipside, using “Hi” combined with the recipient’s name has been described as one of the best email greetings possible, for being “friendly and innocuous” and “sage and familiar”, as described by business-etiquette expert to Business Insider.

#4 “To Whom It May Concern”

Does anyone actually say this any more? The most common place it appears is probably on cover letters – but in that instance, job applicants should really research to whom they are really writing and address the letter to them by name. It’s also one of the most impersonal greetings on this list.

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#5 “Greetings”

Where are you from, Mars? Keep it simple.

#6 “Hey!”

Why are you shouting? Unless you’re contacting a person you know well, and probably not a colleague, exclamation marks can be left off greetings entirely. “Hey” is also incredibly informal. Greeting superiors with it is not likely to impress anyone, and sending it to juniors will probably come off as condescending.

#7 “First name!”

Again with the exclamation mark – just not necessary. Also, this sounds like you’re shouting the recipient’s name at them. Why? Sure, you may be keen but this can come off as a reprimand. Better to stick to the classic “Hi [name]”.

#8 Spelling mistakes

Nothing irks like seeing your own name spelled incorrectly. Is it Kristen, Kirsten, Kristin or Kersten? Is it Elisabeth or Elizabeth? You’d better get it right or your recipient will be offside from the get-go.

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#9 “Dear friend”

Are you really a friend? If so, why don’t you know your friend’s name? If you aren’t actually their friend, don’t use the word – it just points out how unfamiliar you are with the recipient.

#10 “Dear Sir or Madam”

This is best left to correspondence in ye olde days.

#11 “Good morning/afternoon/evening”

You don’t know at what time the recipient will read your email, so why guess? If you’re just saying it because that’s what time you’re at, maybe leave it off – it adds nothing to your email.

#12 “All”

Maybe you think you’re being direct and covering everyone with your reply all, but this comes off as chastising and condescending. If you’re the boss telling your team something important, fine. But if you’re a grunt, maybe 1) think if you need to send a reply all, and 2) consider a different greeting.

If you want to up your email game, consider these writing hacks to improve emails, status updates and job applications.

Mitch is Editor of The Cusp and prefers, “Hi [first name]” as an email opening.