Case Study: Email Signatures

Context: it’s all the rage!

The Email Signature

We all find ourselves wondering from time to time, “What is the best way for me to sign off this email?”
If you’ve had that thought, you’re on the right track. There are plenty of articles presenting the ‘best’ email signatures:

The Week – Top 10 Email Sign-offs
Advantedge – What Your Email Sign-off Really Means
Bloomberg – You’re Signing Your Emails Wrong
Grammarly – Best and Worst Sign-offs
Forbes – 57 Ways to Sign Off an Email
Boomerang – This Email Sign-off Gets the Most Replies

These can be helpful references for when you’re lacking imagination and wondering what your options are for a signature.
However, there’s more to it than simply having an automatic formula or always-most-optimal sign-off.

Intention

There’s a running theme throughout our section on Intentional Speech: care and attention applied to our language is powerful and useful.
With that said, it is most useful to choose our email sign-offs case-by-case. If we’re putting intention into our language, our language shifts throughout the hour, day, week, etc, along with our intentions.

Consider what you are trying to convey in your email. Have you enabled collaboration and accuracy in your correspondence? Can you do so in your signature?
Likewise, how can you preserve yours and your recipient’s power and autonomy in your sign-off language? Is your signature free from implied judgment?

For example, one common email sign-off is “Thanks.” Now, is it actually a ‘thank you’ email? If your email is delegating a work task or making a request of the recipient, finishing with ‘Thanks’ might imply “You’re going to do the think I requested”, challenging the autonomy of the person to make their own choice, respond with a request for clarity, etc. From one coworker, friend, or family member to another, this can be a significant drawback. Even if you are a boss emailing a subordinate employee, carrying authority that way can negatively affect productivity and work relationships.

“Appreciate your help”, “Thanks”, “Thanks in advance”, “Take care”, “Thanks for your consideration”, “Looking forward”… All of these can carry (or be received as carrying) implied shoulds, depending on the situation.

Consider These Key Things:

  • How might your signature be perceived? What might it imply? See the rest of Intentional Speech.
  • Intent – what is the purpose of this email? Align your sign-off accordingly
  • Rapport – how is your relationship with the recipient? Will they hear you cleanly? Are they used to your way of communicating?
  • Do I even need a sign-off on this email?

That last one may surprise you: an email signature is not obligatory. In fact, non-action is often the best course of action here. We live in an era of rapid and numerous digital correspondences. Signatures are, in part, a relic inherited from years of carefully-crafted and sincere, hand-written letters. Emails are simply not the same thing, nor are they intended to be.

Express Yourself

“So, you mean I’m supposed to make my emails cold and non-personal?!”
Not at all. Although, many emails are. And that is ok. In those circumstances, liberate yourself from the sense of obligation to craft the perfect signature. Leave it blank, again, if the context makes sense: if it’s a quick exchange, if it’s with a peer or colleague with whom you have rapport.

Your use of language is one of your most powerful forms of impact in the world. Email signatures need not be a hindrance, but rather an enabler of that opportunity. Consider how you can communicate authenticity, sincerity, and affirming emotions in your sign-off when appropriate. Express yourself.

If you’re looking for fun ideas, here are a few to get you started. These may add sincerity, whimsy, or chuckles. Again, consider the key points and whether these align with the intent and rapport of your email and recipient:

  • Sent from my NOT iphone,
  • Warmly,
  • Upwards and Onwards,
  • Looking forward to our next [install good memory here],
  • Remember the Alamo,

You can find more handy tips for emailing and texting, especially if you’re a teen or parent, on this page of ParentingTuneUp.org.