One email, five words, multiple issues

I received this in a “professional” email from someone who doesn’t know me: 

Good morning,

 Hope your well?

Problems?

  • Tone: the salutation is simultaneously brusque and overfamiliar.
  • Punctuation: the salutation ends in a comma: in this context, the comma should precede my name, which should then end in a full stop – but my name isn’t there. This is not the traditional “Dear [name],” style, so use of the comma is not appropriate. It was probably just copied and pasted, which is another problem entirely, but a contributory factor.
  • “Hope your well?” There are two errors here: “your” should be “you’re” as a contraction of “you are” – although, “you’re” would be overfamiliar in a professional email, but I’ll let that slide as we’ve enough to be going on with. The question mark is inappropriate: this is a statement not a question – an increasing trend as the rising inflection at the end of statement sentences creeps into everyday conversation. The writer is saying that she hopes I’m well, but these two mistakes compromise the message and undermine authority.

What she should have said is “I hope you’re well.” or, “Are you well?” Although the former can come across as a bit insincere – “I hope you’re well [but let’s not get into that right now…].” while the latter has the potential to open a can of worms.

One email, five words, multiple issues. Want me to sort out the writing in your organisation? Get in touch.

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