So, lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about closing salutations.

Wait, don’t go! This post will be intelligent, sexy, enlightening and maybe even profound (because the coffee I’m drinking is exceptional).

It used to be easy. A few years ago, in email (where our correspondence covers the spectrum from professional acquaintance to lover), there were just a few options. Here’s a sampling of what used to be common (from least to most intimate).

  • Regards
  • Best (and all its derivatives)
  • Sincerely (the workhorse)
  • Cheers (never liked this one, not sure why)
  • See you soon (or its opposite, Miss you)
  • Love

I know, there are more, but in those simpler times, nuance was not the point, and the art of the closing… well, it wasn’t much of art form yet.

About five years ago I began working with the founder of an online woman’s magazine. About ninety percent of our contact was online, and even from the beginning her closings were unexpected. In our professional relationship (which moved quickly to friendship) she wrote personal, heartwarming closings, and “love” was the common theme. I remember being taken aback, signing everything simply “j,” because I was uncomfortable with the implied intimacy.

And then one day, she wrote “with love and gratitude for all you are” and it was as if she was in the room with me, giving me a much-needed hug. On a day that had done some damage, I felt… love. And I signed my reply “love, j.”

Things are different now. Love flows freely in email. People give hugs and kisses and x’s and o’s all the time, and I, for one, am a fan. The argument could be made that the constant use of such terms of endearment diminishes their power, and that’s probably valid. Still, when I get a note from someone – even someone with whom my relationship is more professional – and it ends with a hug, I do not think them less professional, just warmer, more expressive. More the kind of person I’d like to surround myself with.

Still, I do worry. There are some people who are not online huggers. Or at least, they  never sign anything that way and there is something in the nature of the correspondence that makes me feel a hug at the end would be inappropriate. I respect that.

Just know this… I love getting hugged, online and in person. Feel free. And when I close my messages with a hug, know that I mean it.

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