Hey, Reader!

Hey, Everybody! Today Kirk wrote with a question many people wonder about:

I have a senior employee who begins every email with "Hey," and it bothers me. Every email starts with "Hey Everyone" or "Hey guys" or "Hey Kirk." It seems friendly but slightly unprofessional, especially when the emails are sent to top management.

It seems to me that using "Hey" is okay in some cases such as "Hey guys–let’s go to lunch Friday." But it’s not okay when you write professional or technical business emails, especially to your superiors or those who don’t know you personally.

Hey, what do you think?

I agree with Kirk. "Hey" is okay as a very informal greeting. When someone writes, "Hey, Lynn," I expect it to be a close friend.

But "Hey" is not a greeting for anything but the most informal exchange.

The question then is this: What is an appropriate greeting?

I recommend these:

Hi, Kirk. Hi, Team. (friendly, slightly informal)
Hello, Kirk. Hello, HR Group. (professional)
Dear Kirk, Dear Team Members, (professional, formal)
Dear Kirk: Dear Team Members: (professional, more formal)
Greetings, Kirk. Greetings, Finance Team. (professional)
Kirk, I am writing to . . . . Team members, I am writing to . . . . (professional)

Some people also like "Good morning" and "Good afternoon." But since we can’t know when someone will read our message, I usually avoid a greeting that refers to the time of day.

The other day someone told me she hates it when employees at her bank say "I’ll go grab so-and-so for you." She hates the word grab used for people. Similarly, some people will dislike "Hey," which may seem like being yelled at.

I have written more about greetings in letters and email. Try here.

Hey, Kirk. Thanks for your question.