Email 101: Greetings


How you feel about that greeting probably depends on your age – and who’s writing to you.

If you’re over 35, you probably think it’s too casual for a business email.

If you’re under 35, you might wonder why anyone would worry about an insignificant word like “hey.”

It can be tricky to find a middle ground in email that works for every generation. There are all kinds of ways to start and finish a business email – and they’re still changing because using email in the business context is only about 20 years old.

So how do we navigate the choppy waters of business emails right now – and please every generation in the workplace?

First, I should emphasize how important it is to write a greeting when you’re sending a business email. If you don’t greet the person by name, your email seems cold – like you don’t care enough about the business relationship to take the time to address them by name.

Choose a greeting and use it consistently. If you’re not sure, chose the more formal greeting. After all, you don’t want a potential business contact to dismiss your email just because you chose the wrong greeting.

Here are good ways to start emails:

Good Morning
Good Afternoon

This is controversial, but I also think it’s fine to begin with the word “Hi” once you’ve established a business relationship with the reader.

Some people like to start with just the person’s first name, such as “Rob.” I think that also works, although it’s a bit blunt. Whatever you decide, make sure you have a comma after the person’s name, like this:

Hello Rob,

Here are more casual ways to start emails – that I definitely wouldn’t recommend for business:

What’s up

Do you have other suggestions for good ways to start an email? Or greetings we should definitely avoid? I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email at