What’s in an email sign-off? Apparently, quite a lot, as Gen Z has recently taken to TikTok to spoof the ways in which Millennials like me approach their email remarks. And it’s making me question my entire approach.
Gen Z Can’t Believe Millennials Still Sign Their Emails This Way
Just a couple of Gen Z’s preferred sign-offs, courtesy of the Tik Tok mash-up above: “See yas later,” “That’s all,” “Hehe bye” and—my personal fave—“alright, alright, alright.” (Matthew McConaughey somehow transcends generations, right?)
Bottom line: Gen Z is done with email decorum and they’ve decided to infuse their own spirit into their sign-offs. Come on, to a generation that’s grown up accustomed to a variety of digital communication methods, this makes sense. Email for them must feel like the voicemail does for us: unnecessarily formal and kind of snoozy. Their sign-offs demonstrate their attempt to spice things up.
Still, in comparison, does my Millennial approach to the sign-off—perfected after years and years—make me look like an old fuddy duddy? Does Gen Z, one of which coined the sign-off “hasta la pasta”, roll their eyes at the sight of my beloved “all the best”?
A bit about my own email signature: I realize that I actually devote quite a bit of brain power deciding between the proper send-offs to my virtual communications. Maybe that’s because I had a college internship at a government relations firm in Boston that required us to study email etiquette—sign-offs included—as part of a two-day orientation before we could hit send on a single note. Ever the professional, my signature back then toggled between “sincerely,” which was borrowed from the pen-to-paper world and represented peak formality, and “all the best,” a nod to the fact that my email partner and I had gone back and forth a few times.
Nowadays, my signature is either a succinct “thank you!” or “all my best,” a slight pivot on the phrasing used in my intern days and one that feels a hair more personal. TBH, I stole it from a former boss-turned-friend—a Gen X’er—who I adore and respect. (Let’s just say if she’s using it, it’s in vogue in my book.)
All these questions led me to consult the person I rely on for all etiquette-related matters, Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette and author of Business Etiquette Made Easy: The Essential Guide to Professional Success. Did she have any advice on the differences? On how to decipher the right approach?
“An email sign-off should be representative of your brand—personal or professional,” she says. “If you work at a formal corporate workplace, for example, then a more formal signature would likely be most appropriate. If you work at a quirky marketing firm or startup, a more relaxed sign-off may be best.” A key point that she makes is that it may be smart to change your signature to match the formality of the person you’re corresponding with, which ultimately could help them feel more comfortable.
At the end of the day, her rule of thumb is that environment, but also who you’re corresponding with, matters. And should be kept in mind.
Does this mean that I’ll make like a Gen Z’er and start signing notes to my boss—or colleagues I’m friendly with—hasta la pasta? Time and my digital correspondence will tell.