Most of us want to make a good impression with our professional emails — but the way we end them might be the one thing letting us down.
According to people management specialist Karen Gately, director and founder of human resources firm Ryan Gately, many workers take great care with email intros and the body of the message, only to neglect the crucial sign-off.
But she warned workers to pay attention to the way we sign off.
"In paragraphs leading up to the sign-off, make sure you leave people knowing what you want and what the next step and point of communication will be," she said.
"Sometimes, people send emails just to share information, but the reader is left wondering what they need to do now.
"And in terms of the mood you sign off with, make sure you don't communicate in ways that can make people think you're grumpy or demanding. Just be yourself and write with authenticity."
Gately said the tone of an email could come across very differently compared to face-to-face communication, and said readers could sometimes get the wrong impression from written words.
"People make assumptions and get defensive … based on what we see in written form," she said.
"That's why email can be so dangerous; it can be such a problem."
Gately also revealed the best — and worst — ways to end a professional email.
EMAIL SIGN-OFF WINNERS:
Gately admitted to being a fan of "regards" herself, as it was a "safe option".
"It's friendly and professional and in most circumstances would be seen as appropriate — it won't have an impact on any level other than to be seen as a courteous way of ending communication," she said.
The same goes for "cheers" — although this option represents " a step up in familiarity".
"If you've actually met the person I don't think it's particularly risky and even if you haven't met the person, especially in Australian workplace culture, it will be seen as you trying to be engaging and build some rapport," Gately said.
"Few people would be offended if you use that word although if you are communicating with someone very formal, you may want to step it up."
Gately herself is a fan of ending an email with a smiley face, as it sends the message, "have a great day, be happy".
But she said the key was consistency — if you are a chronic smiley facer, if you ever leave one off an email to someone you regularly communicate with, they may be left feeling as if you are angry with them, especially if the email was more firm or direct than usual.
EMAIL SIGN-OFF LOSERS:
Gately said while "yours sincerely" was a very common way to end a letter, it could "strike people as being disconnected in its formality" when used in an email.
She advised against it unless the email was intended to be very formal in nature.
Gately said this option was similar in tone to "yours sincerely" and should be avoided except for very official messages.
This is a no-brainer, but Gately said emails shouldn't end with hugs and kisses unless you are emailing a close friend — although even then it could be problematic.
"This is in the friendzone territory and clearly it's common to have friendships in the workplace, but even if it's a conversation with a friend, the email could be sent on or have other people copied in down the track," she said.
"Remember if it does get shared with others, people could start to form an opinion about your relationship with that person."
It seems innocent enough, but if you've given your reader a specific instruction or request and then simply sign off with a 'thanks!', it can be seen as quite demanding, Gately warned.