Apr 21 2012


Can someone explain to me when “Hey” became a legitimate salutation in a professional e-mail?


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  1. 1
    'Tis Himself

    You prefer “Dude!”?

  2. 2
    Ze Madmax

    I’m partial to “Yo dawg!”, myself.

  3. 3
    James Sweet


    You’re fucken olde.

  4. 4
    Justin Allen

    Businesses want to appear casual and fun like those tech companies everyone loves,

    Hey is a relaxed greeting that doesn’t have any possibility of negative connotations.

  5. 5
    chigau (違う)

    “Hey” as a greeting has the negative connotation that the sender is a fucken idjit.

  6. 6

    OI!! I think it’s an attempt at casual friendliness and informality, or, as some might think, role-playing or disguise.

  7. 7

    I gave up on resenting the overly casual greetings when people began using my first name before being properly introduced much less asking permission to do so. In some instances I will still insist on proper salutations most especially if there are attorneys present…

  8. 8
    James Sweet

    Like really, holy fucke there are a lot of fucken olde people on this thread.

    You object to “Hey”? You make people call you “Mr./Ms.”? REALLY?!?!?!?

    What are you, like 103?

  9. 9

    I blame gmail. It gives you the first word in each of the recipients’ respective names in the ‘to’ field, artificially giving the impression of familiarity.

  10. 10

    #8 James Sweet

    My good Mr. Sweet,

    Gotcha mate…

  11. 11

    The only time anyone has ever addressed me in a formal manner is when I was about to be disciplined, regardless of it being a ‘professional’ setting or not. I’ll gladly take informal greetings in my professional e-mails, tyvm.

  12. 12

    To be casual, friendly, and cheerful, and also its easier and quicker to type “hey” then “hello” or others.

  13. 13

    Calling someone “Dear Dr. ___” seems a little archaic, really. Dear? My husband calls me that, sometimes. I do use “Dear” in formal letters, though, and would never use “hey” in a cover letter for a manuscript submission, job application, etc. If it’s someone I know well, emails start with “Hi firstname”. Was this a student who emailed you? Would you prefer “Dear physioproffe”? I’m just curious in what context you found this offensive (if at all).

  14. 14

    Hm, I guess I’m an olde fucke. I positively despise being addressed by my first name in email unless it’s a reply to an email where I’ve signed off by first name. I resent when people assume they can call me by my first name instead of Dr Phledge (though I usually ask everyone but patients to call me by my first name). I think it bothers me because it seems like, as a woman, it signals that I’m less deserving of the respect. My standard address (if it’s not to a named individual) is “Greetings.”

    Also, get offe my lawn.

  15. 15
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    When my generation entered the job market as prfessionals.

  16. 16

    “I resent when people assume they can call me by my first name instead of Dr Phledge”

    And this is why, as a young fucke grad student, I always send out emails with “Dear Dr/Prof. ______” as the greeting to people I don’t know. My boss teases me for it, but I think it pays off.

  17. 17

    This is what keeps you awake at night? Gette a grippe!!!

  18. 18

    I addressed someone as “Dr. ___” in an email once (someone I didn’t know), and they wrote back saying “please call me my first name!” I think it’s a personal preference, and it never hurts to err on the side of more formal.

    Also, as a Southerner, I’m partial to Howdy instead of Hey.

  19. 19

    Mad props to Dr. Phledge and dobbshead.

    Erring on the side of formality will never be held against you–most people will find your Edwardian manners a harmless affectation, and will look around to see if you’ve dropped a calling card for future reference. Erring on the side of informality may in fact be held against you. It may be unfair, wrong, immoral, or whatever, but I’ve never heard or seen a letter to Ask Amy, Miss Manners, or a blog post by someone offended at being addressed by their formal titles (even when they prefer to be addressed more informally.)

    But to answer Comradde Phisioproffe’s question: “Hey” is what I get from confused undergraduates, not from grad students or professional peers, but then I wouldn’t call an e-mail from an undergrad a “professional e-mail.”

  20. 20

    FWIW I’m old enough to lean to the more formal side but I have used “hey” as a salutation in professional correspondence. Of course this has been only to people with whom I already have a personal relationship. It seems natural and proper to be more reserved and formal with people you don’t know or have just met than with associates, coworkers and drinking buddies.

    The OP doesn’t mention the context so I find it hard to judge the appropriateness.

  21. 21

    “Erring on the side of formality will never be held against you…”

    Though they probably wont hold it against you, using the formal form (“sie” and its conjugates) with German friends will not be well received.

  22. 22

    #14 Phledge seems to be one of those super arrogant, control freak doctors that is above his/her patients. That their knowledge is so superior you best not question it. Mustn’t call him by his actual name he grew up with now …. grrrrr

  23. 23

    @dobbshead: As someone who’s really bad at reading social cues, I always err on the side of too-formal. I might come off as stiff and awkward (frankly, I am, especially when I’m around someone I don’t know), but I don’t come off as an overly-familiar, rude nitwit.

  24. 24

    It soooo depends on context.

    If you haven’t met the person, Dr./Professor/Ms./Mr. Lastname is still the most appropriate greeting. You won’t piss off anyone that way, and unless the point of your message WAS to piss off someone, why mess with success?

    OTOH, how you address an instructor after you’ve met her/him, is a function of the person, the habit of the department, etc. I recently got an MS degree from a department in the sciences, a small department where the faculty took pains to be on first-name familiarity with the students. I even once saw a professor correct a student who addressed him as Professor Lastname, with “I’m Dave.”

    It didn’t seem to affect the professor’s performance; I still remember some comments on returned exams/papers that I’d rather forget. The purpose of familiarity was at least in part to encourage students in the field to report difficulties immediately. It’s easier and less embarrassing to say “Dave, I turned my ankle” than “Professor…I turned my ankle”. In fact, that problem affected me personally; if I hadn’t been on first-name terms with the professor, I’d likely have tried to hide the digestive distress… which would have had me puking all over the school car. (Food poisoning on a field trip).

    But in other departments, professors preferred to be addressed as Professor Lastname. I don’t know a student who wasn’t cool with that…or who would start out and email with “Hey”. But I live in backwards California, went to a local commuter school to get my MS degree, and very much hung out with the ordinary people. YMMV.

  25. 25
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Around 1999?

    When did “Me and Fred” become acceptable professional grammar?

  26. 26
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    It’s better to start out more formal, If you start out with “Prof. Iilic or Dr. Yeung, it’s easier for her to say, “Please call me Madison” than if you start out with “Hey, Madison” only to be told that she’d rather be called Prof. Iilic or Dr. Yeung.

  27. 27

    I tend to go fairly formal for first contacts, but I notice a distinct breakdown of formality as time goes on in my workplaces. I really don’t mind “hey” or similar greetings, but internet shorthand, emoticons, and smilies still make me cringe in a professional environment. Of course, I tend not to use those even in personal correspondence, while my coworkers often use “LOL :)” in work-related emails.

  28. 28

    @Den!s: I insist on being called Dr Phledge by my patients because otherwise they think that I, a young woman (see original post), am the nurse. At that point, the relationship dynamics change for the worse (for the patient) because they don’t hear me or the options I give them from which to choose. I’m not above my patients, but my education and experience can only help them if they take me seriously. Fucke your fucking assumptions about why I’ve made that my rule, douchebag.

  29. 29
    Ashley Moore

    50 years after people stopped saying ‘hullo’

  30. 30

    1968…which was before e-mail was invented, but whatever.

  31. 31

    Can someone explain to me when one sentence became a legitimate blog post?

  32. 32
    Steven Bollinger

    Hey. Dude. Whoah. Seriously. Whoah. Dude. Hey.

  33. 33
    Steven Bollinger

    I’m just glad that there are people like you who don’t have any REAL problems.

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