Signing emails

The hardest part of writing emails, for me, is deciding how to sign them. (This is the “valediction“, as I just learned from Wikipedia.) Most everyone I correspond with has a set line. “Best, Dan”. “Kindest regards, Matt”. “All the best, John”. Professors seems especially fond of variations on “best”; the first time I noticed a note signed thus, I said to myself, “Wow, Mike Morrison really cares!” In retrospect he really did care, but I would never infer that from the stock phrase now.

When the context is right (mainly on listserv discussions), I use a line I picked up from Steve Fuller: “Yours in discourse”. I found Fuller’s use of the phrase effective in bringing a conversation back to the level of arguments and their merits…since he frequently takes unpopular stands (sometimes playing devil’s advocate, sometimes not) that others take personally or respond to with what, on Wikipedia, would be called “personal attacks“.

I like Matt‘s “Kindest regards”, which is a much better alternative to the common and bland “kind regards”. But Matt wants to pretend to be a southern gentleman. Not my game.

My favorite valedictions are the variations on “your servant”. I use them only rarely, because they are more likely to come off as pretentious than sincere. Usually when I do sign with something similar, it’s “In service, Sage”, which is a bit less ostentatious and emphasizes an offer of service over a state of servanthood. It also alludes to Alpha Phi Omega (of which I’m an alumnus), whose cardinal principles are Leadership, Friendship and (especially) Service.

Still, I end up signing most emails “Best, Sage” or “-Sage”. Lame, but at least they’re concise. Maybe someday I’ll invent or steal something better. Until then, I remain, your humble and obedient service, wishing you the best and kindest regards, with all truth and sincerity,