Ending your emails with “best” is a terrible thing to do, according to a report by Bloomberg Business. Yet, it seems like that particular sign-off has become the norm for email etiquette in recent years.
Email first entered into the workplace in the 1990s. Back then, most users didn’t use sign-offs. Barbara Pachter, a business etiquette coach, told Bloomberg, “There was no salutation and no closing. It was like a memo.”
Neil Smelser, a sociologist from the University of California at Berkeley predicted that written goodbyes would eventually die off altogether in the era of electronic communication.
However, the opposite happened. As emails started to look more like handwritten letters, people went back to using the same formal etiquette. Eventually, “best” somehow became the go-to closing (do a quick email search for “best” for proof). However, experts say that it’s the worst way to sign off.
“Best is benign. It works when you apparently don’t know what else to use,” says email etiquette consultant Judith Kallo.
Liz Danzico, creative director at NPR, adds:
“A few years ago, best seemed kind of uncaring — like turning your shoulder to the person without thinking. Now, it’s like a virus.”
So what should you do? Absolutely NOTHING — don’t have a sign-off at all. With the advent of email slowly starting to resemble instant messaging, is there really a need for formal goodbyes in every single correspondence?
As Liz Danizico explains, “When you put the closing, it feels disingenuous or self-conscious each time. It’s not reflective of the normal way we have conversation.”