Hope you are well”

Sorry to interrupt your day”

How’re things with you?”

….. I find these email introductions unnecessary. In fact, I find them irritating. Not too sure why. After all, the author is attempting a friendly tone, and there can be no offense in being asked about your health. Is there?

Perhaps it is the inevitable next sentence which I know will be a request. And the request will require some effort on my part to resolve or respond. But I don’t mind doing work, so why would that irritate me? Sending me a task to complete is really a way of saying that the sender acknowledges I know something and I’m the best person to help. If anyone arcs up about that, then why are they at work, if not to do work?

No, I think there’s more to this.  It’s probably something to do with the sense that the author is being false. The most unattached people write to me with these opening lines, as though we went to school together, and crave to be filled in about the last twenty years since we last saw each other. They’re not sorry, they’re not interested in my welfare.

The opening greeting is a copy of the verbal ice breaker typically used when you meet someone in the corridor, or they answer your call. The speaker doesn’t immediately launch into the purpose of the call. There seems to be a need to share a few verbal niceties to commence a conversation. And the same principle is applied to an email opening.

But email formats are different from voice-to-voice conversations. The author has already started with “Dear Malcom” and so that’s enough with the niceties…. Until the sign-off at the end.

The email is the older sibling of the text or instant message, neither of which usually starts with a greeting. Or end with a message sign-off.

The reader is at work and expects work to head their way via email. The content is all the reader is wanting.

The email respondent rarely responds with an explanation of the health or emotional state in their reply email, despite being asked, and so the one-way conversation starter becomes even more redundant.

Imagine too the odd instance when emails are forwarded on to another party. That vacuous greeting is still sitting there in the email trail, sitting in a sterile unrelated context. In the meantime, the email trail expands to include more facts, more figures, more dialogue all related to the essence of the topic.

I don’t use this sort of email opening. Do you think poorly of me?