It’s Time to Stop Writing ‘I Hope You’re Well’ in Emails


Excerpt from this article:

“I hope you’re well” is a scourge on email correspondence, a hollow greeting that has come to mean nothing. I’d sooner write the first line of Finnegan’s Wake backwards and in Pig Latin than “I hope you’re well.” The expression has rendered itself so benign in its overuse that our brains are now programmed to ignore it, skipping directly to the point of the email, which, if the text “I hope you’re well” is any indication, is probably a request for a favor.

What is considered standard and polite email communication has changed over the years, of course: We used to treat emails like decorum-less notes in the early days of the electronic correspondence, but have come to adopt pleasantries as emails became the new letters. Many people believe there is no need for bland benedictions and expressions in our email correspondence, especially at work, but there is also a hard-to-place feeling of hurt that comes from being on the receiving end of a one-line email with no thanks, no greeting, and no sign off. At least buy me a drink first, you know?

But the problem with “I hope you’re well” is similar to what Rebecca Greenfield at Bloomberg declared in her treatise against using “Best,” as a sign off. “Fearful of coming off as too smug or affectionate, we’ve been bullied into using empty words,” she wrote. It’s like if you sat down for a delicious dinner of spaghetti and meatballs but before getting to eat, you forced yourself to take a shot of Soylent first. Why would anyone do that? Just get right to the good part.