​What Your Email Sign-Off Says About You

There are so many ways to end an email poorly, and so few ways to get it right.

Jun 9 2015, 2:09pm

Each puzzle piece is another shred of your dignity, offered up to your corporate overlords in exchange for the hope—the hope!—of benefits and vacation. Photo via Flickr user Horia Varlan

The office is horrible, by dint of being the place you have to go to do work you may or may not care about for dozens of hours each week just so you can afford to eat and have a home. It is an awful manifestation of capitalism, because as bad as it is, it's a marker of privilege for people working in it, a sign that you've surpassed the many retail and service-industry precarious workers of the world. And yet, despite all that, office culture is even worse than the place that birthed it.

Think about it: implicit dress codes, forced friendships with people you'd otherwise never talk to, the fetishization of breaks and food (one office I worked at had a morning-break tradition called "Fat Fridays," which is as offensive as it is depressing). It's the worst. One of the few acceptable ways office drones can try to fool themselves into thinking they're not just cogs in a machine is the email signature, and you better believe the full range of humanity's boring, annoying, and evil nature is on display. We've helpfully compiled a list of popular email sign-offs, and analyzed what they mean about you.

You're so relieved when people acknowledge your existence (if only electronically) that you desperately toss out this little nugget of gratitude over and over again until it loses all meaning. "Thanks," you say after someone completes a report early at your request. "Thanks," person who offered to do the mail run when the office administrator is on vacation. "Thanks," stranger from IT who responded "k" to an email chain you don't even need to be on. After a while, you might as well be signing off with "best." You do, however, enjoy the smug satisfaction that comes with passive-aggressively including "thanks" in any correspondence where your intent is less than cordial.

Thanks very much
You're being way too friendly about requesting a change of meeting times via Google Calendar. Everyone knows you don't care that much and it's weirding us all out, Susan.

You traveled to 2015 from 1905 and, while somehow mastering computer and internet technologies, you have yet to relinquish your sense of etiquette. Lord knows why you opted to work in corporate sales when you possess the secret of time travel, but a well-timed "sincerely" can brighten anyone's day, so thank you.

If you successfully pull this off, you give the impression to everyone you email that you are incredibly affable and enjoy pubs. There's also a good chance you give email-related anxiety to people who know they can't and never will make "cheers" work. It's not your fault, though: you're just out there living your life, cheers-ing every single person you interact with like some happy drunk bloke watching his footie team win the match.

You knew you couldn't pull off "cheers," but "sincerely" sounded weirdly stiff to you. You settled on this as the (ironically!) next-best solution. Sometimes you reflect on the fact that you don't wish the literal best to every person you email, and you feel like a fraud. How many more people will you lie to this week? When will the madness end?

Talk soon
Will we, Brad? Will. We?

XO / XOXO / etc.
You once went to France for a semester abroad, where you smoked on cafe patios while reading beaten-up early-20th-century novels and made eye contact with a local Parisian bartender when you fucked. The earth moved for you. When you came back home, you started kissing your friends on their cheeks when you greeted them, longing for that warm embrace of European sophistication, ignoring the shudders of North American puritanism. Now that trip seems to be receding further and further in the rear mirror and you wonder how many cigarettes you need to have smoked to be at risk for lung cancer. It's been years since you've read anything not on a Kindle. You can't recall the bartender's name, only that the colour of his eyes are similar to your corporate-mandated Windows XP background. When you "xoxo" you almost feel alive.

Yours truly
Why are you writing Depression-era love letters to your coworkers? "Yours truly" should be included in HR policies, because it's got the anachronism of "sincerely" with a hint of "I yearn for you, my darling." This is entirely too much for a work email, but then, you are entirely too much. You know few boundaries and whenever people gently try to tell you maybe you shouldn't bring every new intern up to speed on your messy divorce, you chalk it up to other people not being as free as you.

"Before you print this email, please consider the impact it will have on the environment."
Linda, it's 2015. No one is printing off emails willy-nilly, because our eyes and brains have adapted to the new reality and we now think we read better on screens than on paper. If I'm printing your email it's because I have to, and I don't appreciate your jab of environmental apocalypse guilt. That said, the only people that print off office emails are lawyers and HR, the worst kind of office people, so this is a nice passive-aggressive move. Sorry Jared.

Nothing but your lowercased name
You want everyone to know how busy you are. That shift button is just slowing you down on your way up the corporate ladder. Either that or you're a failed novelist and e.e. cummings fan, and your email signature is the only place you can keep the dream alive.

Just your official signature, complete with job title and company logo
You want everyone to know how busy you are and why. You have no concern for mucking up the message history with extra text, which means either that you're too old to realize the inconvenience you're causing, or you are maybe a sociopath.

You've changed your iPhone email sign-off to anything other than "Sent from my iPhone"
You are everything that is wrong with the world.

Follow Tannara Yelland on Twitter.