Business correspondence

Hey, Guys! Are You Talkin’ to Me?

Will everyone out there who thinks it’s cute, more personal, and likely to catch my attention — please STOP calling me “Hey,” or, worse, “Hey, Guys!” To buttress my point, I wish I had kept all the missives I receive that start “Hey, Jeannette.”

Like this one, “Hey Jeannette, I’m sure you get a ton of spammy submissions so I’ll get straight to the point…” Has informality in written communications gone too far?

Even Buffer, the app that lets you schedule posts to the major social networks, is guilty: “Hey there, great work, all your Buffered posts for Jeannette Paladino are now published on Google+!” Well, I sure am glad to learn that, but couldn’t you have left out the “Hey there?”

I’m Not Your Friend

I find it’s presumptuous of people to assume they are starting a personal relationship when they send me an unsolicited email. I’m not your friend. I am a potential business contact. So please be professional in the language you use. I often receive inquiries from people who would like to write a guest post for my blog. They read like we’ve been BFF.

They vaguely describe what they would like to write about (most times completely unrelated to my brand) and then sign the email, “John” or “Jane.” No last name, no contact information. The emails could be spam, but often the writers will include links to articles they’ve written, so they are legitimate. I’m expected to do all the work to find out who they are.

It’s gotten so that I hit the delete key when an email begins with “Hey.”

Call Me Old-Fashioned

It’s expecting too much nowadays for a perfect stranger to address me as Ms. Paladino. OK, I get that. But a nice compromise is to start with, “Dear Jeannette Paladino.” It’s a little more personal and informal but doesn’t cross the line into assuming we’re already friends who call each other by first names, or “Hey there.”

I know I’m venting. But is it too much to ask that business correspondence be more — businesslike?

Leave a Reply


  1. I chuckled just now, I almost started this “Hey Jeannette.” Of course, you and I are friends, and while the post is public, this is a somewhat one-on-one communication.

    I understand your point regarding “Hey there” and similar greetings when used in mass or automated professional emails.
    The use of “Hey” rather than “Hi” is quite common in certain regions, such as North Carolina and other parts of the south. You may recall the TV shows from the 1960’s Andy Griffith, Mayberry RFD, and Gomer Pile. Jim Neighbors character Gomer was famous for saying “Hey Andy” or “Hey” to whatever person he happened to be speaking to. Again, these are examples of one-to-one communication.

    Thanks for all your great posts. You are such a gifted writer and thinker!

    • Jeff — thanks for being such a good and loyal friend and thanks for the compliment. I understand your point about the appropriate use of “Hey.” So it’s OK if you call me hey!

  2. Jeannette – one of my pet hates is when people are over familiar. It is contrived and is done to make you believe they know you when in fact they are a total stranger. Salesmen/women and recruitment representatives are known for this. I understand it is part of their role and many haves scripts they need to follow. It is verging on painful to listen to their blurb.

    I receive subscriptions from several marketing bloggers and emails are sent as “Hey Phoenicia”, “Hi ya Phoenicia”. I find them too informal and they do not work in making me feel more acquainted to the person.

    • Phoenicia — glad you agree. To me, it’s a turn-off when people are overly familiar and feel they can get my attention with “Hey” as if we already knew each other.

  3. I don’t think I use Hey, with anyone. In writing or in voice. I do use Hi – a lot! So maybe I want to switch over to Hello? Not sure.

    Jeannette I think we are about the same age. The politeness and etiquette you and I experienced have almost melted away. That’s my sense, two cents, of it.

    • Patricia — agree, I’m showing my age! Hi, seems to be OK and I use it, too. But hey is for horses (ha).

  4. Agree with you, Jeannette. Am also tired of people I have never heard of being too familiar when they contact me. Not to mention writers who want me to accept a guest post about something that has nothing to do with the content of my blog. Business is business and you can’t address people you want to do business with as if they were an old friend. You can do that when you know and trust each other.

    • Catarina — I think the advent of social media has encouraged people to become overly familiar with people they’ve never seen or heard of before. Writing a post on a social nework is not the same as initiating a business contact.

  5. You had me laughing with the first line Jeannette because I can easily relate to your “rant.” The only thing that bugs me more is suddenly receiving a bunch of emails from a list I never signed up for. Just yesterday I unsubscribed from half a dozen lists because I didn’t even now who these people were and I’m guessing somewhere along the line my email has been sold or shared because they all showed up on an email account I never use for commenting. Anyway, good point and, no, it’s not too much to ask. 🙂

    • Marquita — that’s another pet peeve, unsolicited emails (which is actually against the law). I unsubscribe, but there is one sender “Frank,” no last name, and there is no way to unsubscribe. The emails look legitimate but could be spam. Lucky me!

  6. Hi Jeannette. I hear you!

    What I hate is when they send a canned e-mail and don’t even put my name into the body of it! Why waste my time if you can’t even customize a pitch to sell me SEO coaching or a guest post for my site?

    It is indeed unfortunate that the art of communicating is becoming a thing of the past.

    • Doreen — the old-fashioned formula for writing — who, what, where, when and why — is dying. I find it astounding how many people write to me, sign with their first names and supply no contact information.

  7. This is such an interesting post to read. I actually prefer informal communication because I find it easier for me to reply back in a more personal tone. I also like that feeling that I can talk to them “normally”, I guess. However, when I do contact a professional or someone I do not know in a professional setting, I do write in a formal style including the “Dear First Name and Last Name” and I sign off with my full name.

    • Emily — I’m glad you agree that when you contact someone that you don’t know professionally, it is more appropriate to include first and last name.

  8. I’m in a field that is a little less formal. And I think it is weird when someone calls me by my last name. It makes me feel like a school teacher. But I think it is crazy how someone can submit to you and not include full contact information. That seems like a no-brainer. If you want someone to give you an opportunity, make it easy for them.

    • Erica — I’m of an older generation that remembers the days when people were called by their last names. No doubt, we live in more informal times but that is my point. Sometimes, the informality can verge on becoming too familiar.

  9. Ms. Paladino. I agree with you. I think we are a little older than the target audience of some of these things. The younger generations don’t seem to subscribe to the same sensibilities.

    I also read Mr. Simpkins’s comment about “Hey.” I grew up on a farm in upstate New York. When someone said “hay” they were either talking about mowing a field or feeding cows. I moved to Savannah, GA when I was 13 and everybody there greeted each other with “hey!” It took a few minutes at first to remember that I didn’t need to look for a bale when someone greeted me.

    Now it’s 30 years later and I don’t really notice it anymore.

    A good rant is fun every now and then.

    • Wayne — thanks for stopping by. Yes, I know that “hey!” is a generally accepted term in many parts of the country, but if people stopped to think, they might consider that someone would prefer to be called by his or her first name.