is it rude to start an email without “dear”?

A reader writes:

I recently sent an email to a client with my boss and his boss cc’d to set up a training session. I used the salutation “Good afternoon,” and the client responded with “Hi [my name].” I sent an email back saying “Hello [his name].” There were also messages in this emails, incidentally; we weren’t just greeting each other back and forth with other people cc’d.

Almost immediately afterwards, my boss’s boss sent an email to the director of my department requesting that she take the time to “educate me on business email etiquette” before allowing me to send emails. She stated that it was highly inappropriate to email someone you don’t personally know using the word “Hello” instead of “Dear.” Granted, I haven’t worked in an office for a very long time, but is this common knowledge/a legitimate business etiquette issue? The word “dear” seems a little forward to me.

What? No, that’s ridiculous.

I mean, you’re also being a tiny bit silly in thinking that “Dear Jane” is forward; “dear” in this context is a standard business opening and doesn’t mean “you are dear to me” but rather “I am following basic conventions of formality here.” But your boss’s boss is being far sillier.

“Dear” is indeed still the salutation of choice when opening a letter to a business contact sent through the postal mail (although how frequently do you even do that anymore?), but email is an inherently more informal medium and has its own conventions. It’s perfectly fine to open emails with “Hi Jane,” or “Hello Jane.” And in fact, it’s polite to notice the other person’s level of formality or informality — and in the case of clients, it makes sense to mirror it. Your client was using “Hi Jane,” and thus there was nothing wrong with you doing so. (And frankly there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with you doing that regardless — but your boss’s boss’s argument is especially silly in light of that.)

This may just your boss’s boss’s weird idiosyncrasy that everyone in your office has to comply with. Sometimes bosses have those, whether it’s insisting that everything be printed in Courier 12 or some oddly rigid idea about how to open an email. But know that it’s just her own eccentricity, not a rule that you need to follow outside of this job.

{ 219 comments… read them below }

  1. TotesMaGoats

    While that is bizarre, I hope that your boss stood up for you or at the very least told you that big boss was off their rocker and to keep doing your job.

    1. Sadsack

      Yeah, I’m interested in knowing how the others on that email responded. I am willing to bet that no one said anything contrary to the big boss’s ridiculous advice.

    2. OP

      I made a mistake in my email to Alison, it was not MY boss’s boss, it was the client’s boss’s boss. I don’t think the director stood up for me, but I wouldn’t really expect her to say anything to a client about their understanding of email etiquette. Director of my department told me about the email with the complaint and asked that I please use “dear” going forward.

      Apologies to everyone who responded for my rather large typo!

      1. alexcansmile

        That makes it even more bizarre! Your clients’ boss’s boss emails YOUR boss to complain about a lack of “Dear”!?!

        As your director said, I’d just use Dear going forward with that client, but that boss’s boss has their knickers in a twist over something very minor.

        1. Erin

          Agree – this makes it even more bizarre.

          Really, really wish you could email a link to this post to Rude Dude and then give us an update! But since he’s connected to a client, maybe not the best idea.

          Why does he have so much free time to even worry about something like this? He’s clearly one of those people who needs to put other people down in order to feel big and important. Asshat.

  2. Traveler

    Boss’ boss has some weird conventions. I know “dear” is normal, and I use it. But it sounds weird to me too. I don’t even pay attention to salutations in emails.

    1. Vicki

      Same here. I don’t use Dear or Hi or Hey you guys.

      I start email with “Fergus…” (if there are people Cc:d) or just type the note (if it’s to exactly one person. They know who they are.)

      But I’m in Tech…

      1. PM Jesper Berg

        I personally find “Hi [name]” to be a bit too informal. That said, I’m not *consciously* offended if someone uses it, since the salutation is so common.

  3. AMG

    I’d actually be kind of embarrassed to start emails with ‘Dear’. I think it would look funny, especially if the client isn’t doing it and if OP reverts to something so formal after being casual (but professional and appropriate). I wonder where people get these weird ideas. Does he email everyone with ‘Dear’? I work with plenty of people who don’t bother to even enter a salutation at all.

    1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

      I would never in a million years start an email with Dear. And if somebody used it with me I’d find it awkward.

        1. Anna

          I tend to say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” depending on the time of day. Even to Congressional staff, so if that’s unprofessional I guess I’m being REALLY unprofessional.

          1. Jerzy

            I use “Good morning” and “Good afternoon” as well, especially in cases of group emails, or when I want to be a little more formal because I haven’t corresponded with someone before.

            With pretty much every other email, I’ll start off with “Hi”, “Hello” or (if it’s someone I write emails to several times a day, I’ll just say “[name] – “.

            If you’re not saying “What’s up, bro!” or something like that, you’re not really being too informal for the standard workplace.

            1. blackcat

              I once had to explain to a student that starting an email with “yo” was not appropriate. It wasn’t even “Yo Ms. Blackcat.” Just “yo.”

              His defense was that I had told them they had to start an email with a salutation and while I had given examples of appropriate ones (“Dear”, “Hello”, “Hi” and “Goodmorning/evening/afternoon”), I hadn’t explicitly told them what *not* to use.

      1. super anon

        i’ve had emails sent to me with “dear super anon” and i find it really weird! it sets a precedent of formality that i find awkward to reply to because i don’t want to use dear, but i feel like “hello ___” after someone dear’s you is too informal? and then you end up in that terrible over-analyzing every word in the email loop!

        it’s especially odd when the email content itself after the dear is super informal. it’s just awkward all around.

        1. olives

          I agree with this! I think it’s one of those linguistic drift things – the only people who address me with “dear” in emails are 1) my mom, 2) utility companies, and 3) out-of-touch sounding email marketers, where the content is incredibly incongruous with the formality level of the “dear”. I see it so rarely now that I really do interpret it every time I see it as an expression of familiarity, emotional sincerity and formality – which feels really odd when using it to address either strangers or business associates.

          I completely realize that this is not how the word originally evolved, but it gives me a squicky feeling every time I feel like I’m “supposed” to use it but don’t feel the recipient merits a “dear”.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Wait, but do you really not write “dear hiring manager” (or whatever) in cover letters? Because that’s an example of a formal letter that most people still write.

        1. SG

          I think that’s the only context I would use it- I always say Hi or Hello in emails, Good Morning or Afternoon if I don’t know the person.

          1. TootsNYC

            I almost never use ANY salutation.

            if I’m writing to someone who doesn’t know me, I’ll introduce myself:

            “I’m the Accounts Manager at Harry’s Chocolate Teapots; I’m writing to . . .”

            Maybe that’s not good form.

            1. Mabel

              And I’m glad you don’t say, “My name is …” Because if they’re reading an email from you, they know your name! (obviously, that one particularly annoys me)

          2. Karowen

            Ditto. I’ll use Dear Hiring Manager, but the only time I use “dear” in an office setting is if I’m trying to be weird and overly formal.

        2. TootsNYC

          It doesn’t feel weird to have the formality when you’re writing to someone you don’t know, and isn’t even a name. “Hi, hiring manager” is just weird.

          If it truly wasn’t even the name, then “Dear Client” would be OK.

          But when it’s a person whose name you actually know (and the knowing of their name means you have been “officially introduced”), it’s awkward to me. “Dear Janet” seems odd.

          However….if my boss’s boss thinks I ought to use “dear,” then I will. It’s her quirk; she’s entitled to it.

            1. Terra

              That’s what I do as well, although my boss has a weird quirk about “whom” being archaic and “to who it may concern” looks weird to me.

                1. Three Thousand

                  It’s more often used incorrectly than correctly, and mostly by people trying to sound sophisticated rather than speaking naturally, so it really needs to become archaic.

              1. Afiendishingy

                Whaa? “To who it may concern” is WRONG. I hate when people use whom incorrectly when they’re trying to sound smarter, but it’s not archaic!

        3. Francie

          I just use “Hiring Manager:” rather than “Dear Hiring Manager.” Or “To Whom it May Concern,” with stuffier places.

        4. olives

          I don’t even use it in this case, for the reasons I explained above. It feels way too familiar, especially for an unnamed person! I usually use “To Whom It May Concern” here, though not without some consternation and worry that it’ll be misconstrued and that I should be using something else.

      3. Marian Madame Librarian

        I literally just sent an email to my management team that I addressed as “Dear Management Team”. I do still use dear as a salutation, even in emails. I don’t find it awkward to use but I do agree with Traveler that a lot of people probably don’t even pay attention to the salutation.

        I actually find the closing of an email to be more awkward. Do I write sincerely or just type me name or use some other closing. I do all of the above depending on the context of the email. But I find that I put more thought into my closing than my salutation.

        1. BSharp

          YES, the closing is painful. Lately I’ve been doing “All the best”. I went through a “Warm regards” phase, and “Cheers” until it started to feel pretentiously fake-British. Our clients tend to do “Thanks” but I’m not asking for anything, so that feels awkward too.

          1. chilledcoyote

            I basically use “Thank you” or “Thanks” for everything. I’m constantly thanking people I’ve helped. I just can’t come up with something that feels less awkward to me!

        1. Ad Astra

          I can see how someone who’s been in the workforce a long time might grow accustomed to “Dear Percival” after years of typing up business letters. A while back, my MIL wanted my opinion about a letter she was writing — did the subject matter fall more into the line of a personal letter or a business letter? I couldn’t understand why it mattered until she explained that there’s some difference in the formatting of a personal vs. business letter. I’ve never sent a paper business letter, so it wasn’t on my radar.

          1. Natalie

            IIRC you indent each differently, although it’s been years so I might have that wrong. I never understood why they were formatted differently anyway, other than the header issue.

            1. hermit crab

              We spent SO MUCH TIME in middle/high school learning how to format personal and business letters! I’ve never understood what is so “businessy” about colons and block paragraphs.

          2. Ted Mosby

            That’s funny, bc I’m 26 and when I entered the work force four years ago I was very formal (thinking that would be what was expected of me) and my boss and my coworkers used to rib me about it a little. It took a long time for me to get used to not having to call people older than me Mrs/ma’am, use formal greetings, etc.

            1. olives

              Definitely been there! I was surprised to find out that people in the workplace are mostly just…people. =)

    2. Lily in NYC

      I work in a pretty conservative place and only start emails with “dear” when dealing with people at the UN or some places that I know are very formal. But that tends to stop after a couple of emails back and forth – then I’m back to Hi, JoeyJoJoShabadoo.

        1. Katniss

          That’s the stupidest name I ever heard!

          (Others, please note that I am doing a Simpsons bit, not actually attempting to be a jerk!)

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger

      I use “Dear” in initial communications with people I don’t know, especially if that communication is several paragraphs – like if I were applying for a job and emailing a cover letter, or if I’m reaching out to a new contact to ask for a collaboration. But once we’re in a back-and-forth, or when I’m sending a quick note to a coworker, I’ll generally use “Hi.”

    4. Whatsername

      I’ve worked in a culture where I was expected to address emails as “Dear Mr. Lastname”. It never really stopped bothering me.

      1. alexcansmile

        That would make me so angry. I have lots of Opinions on the use of Mr and Mrs and Ms in general and being forced to use them (or have them used at me) would likely make me quit. 7/10 times if someone uses a formal title for me they choose incorrectly and misgender me. Correcting it the infrequent times it happens now bothers me – I can’t imagine how constantly angry I would be in a place like you’re describing. I’d probably craxk and send out a company-wide email telling people that NO it’s NOT MR ALEXCANSMILE YOU IDIOTS I AM A LADY.

        1. Alli525

          Ugh. Someone misgendered me in an email today – my name (as you can probably tell) is Alli, which is pretty clearly female. If I spelled it “Ali,” sure, there could be some debate, but. Also, the emailer in question has an uncommon, very gender-non-specific name (or at least in American culture – their name sounded like it could be Italian, or possible Middle Eastern), so you’d think they’d know better.

          So I responded to the “Dear Mr. LastName…” email, answering the question they asked and adding a “PS: It’s Ms. LastName, if you must use an honorific.” He then called me to apologize!! Which has never happened in my entire life. So it had a happy ending after all, and maybe he will think twice about unnecessary honorifics in the future.

          1. alexcansmile

            That’s usually what I do as well – the PS. Sometimes when it’s on contracts I’ll flat out cross it out and write in MS or include it in the list of corrections I’m sending along:
            “We need to up the headcount to 50, please make sure the “T” in our company name is not capitalized and it’s Ms. Alexcansmile, not Mr., etc.”

            It irritates me to no end however when I get grant applications/charitable donation requests where the person has either taken the time to find out who to properly address the application to, or I’ve talked to them on the phone/previously and they STILL manage to call me Mr. It makes me want to trash the application and give them no money. I have had a few people call to apologize, which makes me happy, though it’s awkward….

            1. Lily Rowan

              I have a gender neutral first name in real life, and recently on a conference call, someone referred to me as “he” after hearing me talk! I really don’t think I sound like a man, so it just made me laugh.

              In general, I don’t mind being misgendered by a stranger in writing — if they feel like they need to use a title to go with my first name, it really is a 50/50 guess. I will never forget the customer service call I took early in my career from an older man who was LIVID at being addressed as “Ms.” Now I forget what his name actually was, but it was something like Vivian or Marion. That dude just made me roll my eyes.

  4. Ruby Tuesday

    Uh…of all the weird things I get to read here…. this was really out there – it almost seems that the big boss is out of touch with email etiquette.
    I had a moment of…wow…that’s weird with….uh…how on God’s green earth would I tell the big boss “you’re wrong…and here’s why?” [flummoxed]

    1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

      In the LW’s shoes, I don’t think you really can say anything to big boss, but if I were LW’s boss I might try to gently push back by explaining that LW was just following my/the client’s lead because that’s what I’d taught her to do, and if for some reason big boss found mirroring clients in email correspondence inappropriate, I’d speak with my team and update our practices.

    2. Sadsack

      Not only is she out of touch regarding email etiquette, but she is someone who would openly chastise a lower level employee in an email to her upper management about something so trivial. That’s pretty obnoxious.

  5. Beezus

    I wonder if the boss’s boss is from a business culture where formal email etiquette is common? I used to email people in China regularly, and it’s normal there to open an email with Dear So-and-So, and close with Best Regards, Email Writer. Some of the businesses I communicated with had very formal styles and would use Dear Mr. Lastname instead of Dear Firstname.

    I adopted a similar writing style for those audiences, because I got feedback from my Asian colleagues that my emails were coming across as abrupt without it. (The rest of my organization routinely omits openings and closings on internal emails, especially after the first volley of conversation.)

    1. Beezus

      That said, starting an email with any other audience with Dear… would feel odd to me, and if the customer was responding similarly, he obviously didn’t have an issue with it, either. I agree the big boss is out of touch, just trying to offer a possibility for why that might be.

    2. acmx

      When I email to people outside of the US (quite a few countries but I don’t with Canadians), I always use “dear” to start my emails. I only use “hi” and the like after they use it.

    3. Delyssia

      That’s an interesting point. I just did a search in my work email for “Dear Delyssia” (with quotes) and most of what came back were automatic notification type emails (“Dear Delyssia, Here’s the latest from this list you signed up for three years ago!”), but there were several from colleagues who are from and/or work in the middle east or China.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I just searched my email for “dear Alison” and found 8,927 instances of it! Lots of hiring stuff, lots of form letter type things, lots of Ask a Manager letters, and a lot of routine business correspondence from people I didn’t know/barely knew when they first reached out.

          1. These are the droids

            what about “Good morning Alison” and “Good afternoon Alison”? Those are my normal openers for emails, save to people I work really closely with

              1. alexcansmile

                I’d be curious to know how many start with just “Alison” though I imagine that’s harder to do a quick search for.

              2. Dr. Johnny Fever

                Hello Alison, I wanna hold your hand
                I haven’t been the same man
                Since I saw you coming in
                Let’s have a toast to the girl in Aisle 10!

      2. Beezus

        I searched through my email archives for last quarter, and came up with 4 emails starting with “Dear Beezus”. They were all form letter-style emails. I did a similar search on a quarter’s worth of emails from 2013, when I was communicating daily with people in Asia, and I had 352 emails starting with “Dear Beezus.”

    4. katamia

      I recently started working in a Chinese-speaking country for a company with a lot of native Chinese speakers (although all my communication is in English because my Chinese is awful tbh), and everyone uses “Dear” for everything. It feels very weird to me and I don’t like it, but it would be too awkward to switch it up. “Best Regards” is way too formal for me, though, even though some coworkers use it. I just close with “Thank you, Katamia.”

    5. Violet Rose

      Same story in the UK (or at the very least England): just about every email starts with ‘Dear ____’ and closes with ‘Best Wishes’ or ‘Kind Regards.’ When I first got here, I felt so weird using Dear, I started all emails with ‘good morning/afternoon/evening’ for about a year,

      1. Laurs

        Really? I almost never use “dear”. Unless I’m writing to execs and am copying them into a posted letter… We have a generic account which gets all of our development emails and all of those emails start “dear generic” though…

    6. matcha123

      Working in Japan it’s the same. Japan, Korea and China have a huge business revolving around “business English” where people take (imo) useless classes and tests designed to teach them “business English.”
      The TOEIC test is used in Japan for business people as it supposedly reflects “real business English.”

      These places regurgitate the most formal and stifling English emails:

      “Dear Head Manager Jones:

      I am Grace Smith, the Senior Webmonkey at Web Stuff Enterprises, LCC. Today I am writing you regarding our correspondence over the past year reading the items for the things. Please find attached the record detailing our correspondences in a PDF file for your viewing pleasure.
      I look forward to our continued good relationship and express my deepest wish for your continued success as Head Manager at Your Corp, LTD.

      Sincerely yours…”

      People like these because, at least in Japan, formal written correspondence follows a strict pattern. You do not deviate from the pattern. You do not use “Hi” because it’s “colloquial” and therefore not “business English.” You do not change things up. You copy-paste the same form email/letter. And in Japanese, and I assume Chinese and Korean, this is perfectly fine.

      Coworkers cannot understand why or how anything other than the most formal of emails could be acceptable. This is a huge PITA for me, sorry.

      1. Koko

        You know, every once in a while it would be nice for someone to deeply wish me continued success in my role.

  6. Mike

    I just zipped through the last 50 or so emails that I’ve received at work. One of that used ‘Dear’ and it was a solicitation from a vendor. Every other one started with hi or hello.

    1. Shan

      That’s what I thought when I saw that too. Almost every time I’ve received an email that began with “Dear,” it was from a solicitor or a mass email. It’s almost never used in personal communication. Just shows out out-of-touch the boss is…

  7. AnonEMoose

    I do start some emails with “Dear.” But these are usually of the “formal notification of something” variety, so a bit more formality is appropriate.

    If it’s correspondence with co-workers or friends, it’s “hello,” “hi,” “Good morning/afternoon” (that last usually if the message is to a group of people).

    1. Charlotte Collins

      Agreed. This is how I do it. Occasionally, I have to respond to a customer service-type issue, and I write the email as if it were a formal business letter. Everyone else gets “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” or “Hi,” depending upon how closely I work with them (also, when I’m addressing a large group, I prefer “Good [Time of Day]”).

  8. kac

    I think when working with clients/customers its important to mirror their level of formality. If someone signs their email by the first name, and you insist on calling them Mrs/Mr Lastname, that is incredibly awkward behavior on your part. I think Dear/Hello/Hi falls into this greeting. If a client wants to be more friendly/less formal, it is strange, imo, to insist on being more formal.

    I had a boss once who had a strange obsession with this stuff. He was difficult to work with in many ways.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      That’s a great point. I can’t remember the last time I’ve used any kind of salutation in a work email (I do use one for interview/job search emails), but 99% of the time I’m emailing coworkers or clients who know me quite well, and they usually compose their messages the same way.

    2. Kyrielle

      Yeah, if I got an email from someone business-wise that started “Dear Kyrielle”, and I replied with “Hi, Percival” and my reply, if the next email said “Dear Kyrielle”, I would think it a little odd, file it as one of Percival’s quirks, and use “Dear Percival” thereafter – but it would feel a bit awkward to me.

  9. WLE

    Are you positive that was the issue? If “educate on business email etiquette” was all she said, this could have been referring to something else that was said in the email. Or even in another email.

    It could be that your boss’ boss didn’t like who was cc’d or any number of things really. I’d be sure that “Dear” was the issue here, and if it is, that’s definitely not the norm anymore. I would just politely accept the feedback and use “Dear” in the future.

  10. Expat MENA

    I have worked in advertising agencies and consultancies for 8 years and dealt with clients from PMs to CMOs and have NEVER used “Dear so and so.” I’ve also reported to people with 30 years of experience who have encouraged me to give a little more “love” to my emails to clients by starting with “Hope you’re well” etc. etc. but have never, ever mentioned using “Dear.” Not. Even. Once. This is completely strange and outdated in today’s landscape.

    To further reiterate, I live in the Middle East and work with teams and clients all over Europe, MENA, and Asia and have never received a single email utilizing “Dear.” It’s wholly ridiculous.

    1. Expat MENA

      Thinking further… We always like to think of our clients as “partners” in ATL / BTL marketing so there’s deference but part of what puts me ahead of others is frankness and dealing with clients as a person who needs someone to make them look good. No matter their level. It’s not being informal but it’s building camaraderie, if I started emails with “Dear” or called them “Mr. / Mrs.” that would undermine that.

  11. Biff

    Using “Dear” to start an everyday business email is almost always a dead giveaway that someone is not a US worker, at least in my industry. It is not considered forward or a problem in this case, but this may or may not have significant impact on how the writer is received by the recipient. If they are expecting US-based support or have been promised someone in their timezone, this may appear as the company going back on their promises to the client. Also, most emails I receive that start with ‘Dear Biff” (or worse, “Dear Biff Bifferson”) tend to be overt political messages, a hard-hitting fundraiser for a cause, or a schmoozy sales pitch. Not something most companies want to be associated with. So while “Dear” might not be ‘forward” it is, for me, associated with intrusion outside of when I know it is coming from someone who is in customer support or is a non-native speaker.

    I think your boss’s boss is probably doing a lot of damage with out-moded ideas on how to write a letter, personally. While I agree with Allison that there is nothing to do in some cases, I do think this could be a sign to get out.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      That … seems extreme to me. Lots of bosses are fine to work for but have random idiosyncrasies that aren’t terribly onerous. I can’t see this on its own as a sign to leave.

      1. Academic Librarian

        yikes.
        I am a user of the Dear.
        Dear Ms. Green (May I call you Alison?):

        I email many people I don’t know personally. Donors, faculty, scholars. I require my staff to be the most formal until the recipient indicates their preferred address. If a contact replies Hi then we continue in that less formal manner. If a job applicant began an e-mail cover letter with Hi FirstName, I would be negatively disposed. If someone in my department continues to begin emails with faculty that they did not have a previous relationship with “Hi” after I stated that my preference as their supervisor to use “Dear” (because I think it is more professional) I would be seriously annoyed.

        Yours,
        Ms. Librarian (please call me Academic)

        1. Sarah in DC

          Would you really sign an email like that? Why not just sign it how you would like to be addressed?

          1. fposte

            She could, but her way of doing it is historically correct, and it explicitly states what she likes to be called–which signing doesn’t do.

            1. Academic Librarian

              oh I was just being a little over the top.

              more annoying is people who do not sign off at all. posting their full name.

              regards,

              Academic Librarian.

              Do I reply more casually? Do I use their full name? Do I use an honorific?

      2. Biff

        Hence the use of ‘could’ — if this is really tone-deaf for their industry, that might be a strong sign of a business that is behind-the-times and/or teaching this new hire the wrong professional standards across the board. I was in a job like that for a very long time, and honestly, I wish I’d left when I first began to run into these issues. Because I’ve really had to unlearn a bunch of habits that I didn’t even realize were bad.

    2. Expat MENA

      Plenty of non-US workers understand nuances in business correspondence and would never use Dear. This isn’t a non-US / US distinction at all.

      1. Gallerina

        I’m English, although I now live and work in the US and I always use “Dear” whenever I’m emailing anyone important, senior or who I don’t know well. I’m in my 20s, so it must be a cultural rather than generational thing.

        Incidentally, one of my pet hates is when people start emails without any kind of salutation, just your name. I find it so rude, like they’re barking orders rather than asking for something.

        1. L Veen

          That’s one of my workplace pet peeves as well. Another is when I get “Hi (firstname)” emails from high school/college students who need my assistance with research (I’m a govt librarian). It feels inappropriately familiar – we’re not friends; I’m a professional whom they’re asking for help with their homework. It just rustles my jimmies.

        2. Expat MENA

          A salutation is understandable for sure. I don’t think a reply without one is rude though. And I usually just take umbrage with the idea that non-Americans don’t know how to communicate or some other dumb comment. I work with about 20 nationalities and all are lovely — though no one uses “Dear,”

        3. acmx

          I had a job where we never used a greeting, just first name. Then I moved to a place that was either “hi/hello/hey” within the US and “dear” with other countries and I disliked having to add “hi”. To me, it was a little too casual; “dear” was awkward.

          Now, I don’t mind “dear” for customers but within my organization, I’d still like to just use “first name” but refrain.

        4. Brandy in TN

          We do that here. Im emailing the same people over and over again, but if I email a boss, I might just go “Sarah,” and the body or “Hey Sarah” and the body. we very polite on the phone, “how is your day” and all, (Im in the south) before launching into a phone question. I could skip the pleasantries myself, but its societal norm. But I don’t think its rude. Its business. I even answer the phone “Hey So and So” since I have caller ID.

        5. Three Thousand

          I used to find the name-only, no-salutation opening far too abrupt, but now after seeing it so often I prefer it, and I actually find using “Hi” and “Hello” for every opening unnecessarily cloying, especially in an extended email chain.

        6. Margot

          I agree, I always feel like I’m being told off. I was hoping someone would raise this! It seems to be more common in some disciplines. In my old job (banking) it was the standard email opening, whereas in my current job (government) I almost never see it – hi/hello/hey are the norm.

          I also think it’s fine to have no salutation and just dive into the message body if it’s an extended conversation.

          If pushed, I guess I’d say I slightly prefer Dear for an email to someone I’ve never met and who isn’t closely linked to me in some other way (eg it’s too formal for someone who works at your organisation but who you’ve never come across before), but I also don’t think I’d be bothered if someone emiled me in those circumstances and just said ‘Hello Margot’.

      2. jhhj

        It is, though. Not because they are wrong to use Dear elsewhere, because it turns out that business terminology is very culture dependent, and in some other places “Dear X” is appropriate where in the US it’s typically considered slightly more formal than is generally appropriate (and “Hi X” would be horribly rude), and not everyone knows all the cultural signifiers for every country they email.

        1. Expat MENA

          Hi is not horribly rude anywhere I’ve encountered and I’ve been working outside of the US for 4 years. Where finds it rude?

          You have to remember the language differences and as the native English speaker, if you use a phrase then others will assume it’s appropriate and repeat it. I cannot even imagine one of my South Asian teams telling me that saying Hi or Good Morning is horribly rude. It’s really really not. If someone think so they’re being a bit of an asshole.

          Even the Europeans I deal with have never used “Dear.” What industry are you in that anyone actually cares?

      3. Biff

        I didn’t say that — I said that in my industry the use of dear would be a dead giveaway. I am completely cognizent that it is going to vary by industry.

  12. Cambridge Comma

    It’s definitely a know your office culture situation. I work for the North Atlantic Teapot Organization, and ‘Dear Firstname’ is usual, although ‘Dear Ms Lastname’ is not unknown. “Hi, Colleague,” only when you know someone well, and always with the comma to show you know the proper usage.
    But your boss’ boss is crackers. Especially if a harmless salutation is where she choses to invest her energy.

    1. Julie

      How strange! I’ve never seen “Hi, Colleague,” in any sort of greeting, whether email or printed. I see it all the time in fiction. (eg: “Hello, Tyrion. I hope your time in the black cells made you more accepting of proper comma use.”) But I’ve never seen it used in a salutation.

      1. Cordelia Naismith

        Maybe that’s industry dependent? I use “Hi, FirstName” as my salutation all the time in email.

    2. Almond Milk Latte

      I know that comma is valid, but I don’t Hi, Colleague. Commas are breath markers, and when I’m emailing my coworkers I want to sound exuberant and breathless.

      HI COWORKER!! CHECK OUT THIS HELLA SWEET PROJECT PLAN OMG!!!

      1. Violet Rose

        I pictured how my former academic supervisors would react if I sent them MY HELLA SWEET THESIS DRAFT and just burst out laughing.

    3. Min

      I had to force myself to stop using, “Hi, Colleague,” at work because everybody else puts the comma after the name and it started to feel awkward. I can’t bring myself to put the comma after the name so I’ve just stopped punctuating the greeting. Not the best compromise, but I have issues. :D

  13. Decimus

    If my boss started complaining my emails were too informal, I’d start signing them as “Your most obedient and humble servant.” But I’m inherently prone to sardonicism.

    1. Jennifer

      I’m really tempted to do that these days, especially since Hamilton is all the rage–and I have to be an obedient and humble servant in my job.

  14. Ad Astra

    I would even say that “Dear Lucinda” is too formal for email. It’s unlikely that someone will hold that against you, of course, but it still sounds weird.

    In my office, people like to start with “Hi Lucinda.” I’ve trained myself to start my emails that way too, though when I’m responding to someone I tend to go directly into my message instead of returning with a “Hi, Percival.” I’m good about using a conversational tone and I really don’t think I come off as too abrupt, but I see no reason to greet someone I’m familiar with every time we communicate.

    If I’m emailing someone I’ve never contacted before, I might go with “Hello Lucinda,” in case they think “hi” is too familiar.

    1. Expat MENA

      I have to constantly add the “Hi x” to my replies. When emails are threaded, constantly adding the greeting seems too formal. Especially when there’s a ton of back and forth.

  15. insert pun here

    I cold-email a LOT of people, and my preferred formula is thus: first email is Dear Dr. So-and-so, email text blah blah, best, myfirstname. They generally get the hint and reply Dear myfirstname, email text here, sincerely, theirfirstname. Sometimes people ask me if they can use my first name (“Dear myfirstname (if I may),”) and I am like GOD YES PLEASE when you call me by my surname I think you are referring to my mother.

    For a colleague, or a frequent correspondent, I’d just be like “hi” or “hey” or perhaps “hello” because… you know, we know each other. All of which is to say, this person is bananas.

  16. jhhj

    Is the boss’s boss not from the US, possibly? There remain different rules in different countries.

  17. SerfinUSA

    I have to email a lot of faculty whom I don’t know and always start with Hello Firstname. Once I have an established email correspondence it’s Hi Firstname.
    I took over my job from a person who was very effusive and self-deprecating and addressed emails with Dear Professor/Doctor Lastname. Not the kind of hierarchical relationship I wanted to perpetuate, and I have had no complaints yet.

    1. Random citizen

      This is exactly what I do! Hello Firstname on the first email, and Hi Firstname after a while. Hey Firstname/Nickname/Guys/Everybody, etc. for people I work with (in person) every day.

  18. MashaKasha

    I promise I’m not just saying this for shock value and it’s actually true, but pretty sure that every email I’ve received in the last five years that started with “Dear”, has been spam. With business emails, it’s either “Good morning”, or “Team”, or “Hi”, or just my name, as in: “MashaKasha, (new line) Can you send me the last two years’ worth of everyone’s TPS reports? (new line) Thanks, Boss.”

    I’d be pretty frightened if I got a work email starting with “Dear”. I wouldn’t know what to make of it.

    1. olives

      I find your last statement to be completely accurate. Like, did I do something wrong? What merited this?

  19. Artemesia

    I remember Katharine Graham commenting on this topic years ago — some etiquette column had suggested using formal salutations in Emails and she indicated that it was absurd, that emails have their own norms and are not formal letters. She was in her late 70s at the time and understood that.

  20. Pam

    Oh, no, I’m kind of freaking out here… I have used Dear, when I’m sending emails to my Board. Is this terribly out of touch? Here’s how my board correspondence often looks:
    Dear Teapot Board,
    Blah blah blah, business stuff blah.
    Sincerely,
    Pam

    1. kac

      No, I don’t think Dear is terribly out of touch! Especially when sending emails to Very Important People, like a Board. In general, I think the important take-away from this thread is that no one should get their panties in a knot over email greetings. ;)

    2. LBK

      Emailing the board sounds like it may be a more formal situation, so that’s probably fine. Emailing with a vendor you speak to all the time who isn’t mirroring back formal communication (as in the OP’s letter) wouldn’t merit it.

      1. afiendishthingy

        off topic, I saw a personalized license plate that said LBK today. I thought of you. You weren’t at a popular bakery in New England this morning, by any chance?

        1. LBK

          Wasn’t me :) I am in New England and can often be spotted at bakeries, but I don’t have a vanity plate.

  21. FiveWheels

    Most of my clients and opposition counsel don’t even get a “hi”, the standard in here is just to open with their first name.

    One client gets a “dear” but he’s still Mr Blogs even in informal face to face chats.

    Everyone gets a “kind regards” at the end though, even if I hold them in zero regard and have only unkind thoughts towards them.

    1. SerfinUSA

      I often get either ‘best’ or ‘regards’, seldom both, in people’s email sigs. Above that will usually be just their first name, below the body of the email and above the standard sig, including the best or regards line.
      Looks a bit odd, but people here are very attached to their multiline, many-titled, university-referencing text block, while wanting to display collegial informality.

  22. Djuna

    Eeeeep, as a writer working in a very large company, I don’t remember the last time I saw “Dear…” as a salutation in a mail.

    I *do* remember sending severe invisible side-eye to an off-site support person who called me “dear” as in “Yes, dear. One moment, dear.” all the way through an IM conversation. Skeeved me out, especially since I was giving him troubleshooting steps for a complex tech issue which he’d approached me for help on. It felt like it was coming with great big dollops of patronizing goop on the side.
    “Dear” in any context in my particular job just reads as tone deaf. Like writing “E-mail” instead of email, it makes you look a little out of the loop.

    That said, I always use it in cover letters, but those are the last bastion of such old-school formality as far as I’m aware.

  23. TootsNYC

    It’s perfectly fine to open emails with “Hi Jane,” or “Hello Jane.”

    Actually, if you would, please add a comma before the noun of direct address:
    Hi, Jane Hello, Jane Hey, Jane Sure, Jane. You’re right, Jane. Thanks, Jane!

    It would make me happy.

    ;-)

      1. Rat Racer

        Really? I think that looks odd (but totally believe you that it’s grammatically correct). As a perpetual mis-user of parenthesis, em-dashes and colons, I should probably just shut up when it comes to discussions of punctuation.

        1. Julie

          This is one of those instances where the convention for salutations is different from the normal usage within paragraphs. Usually when directly addressing someone, there’s a parenthetical comma around the person’s name. For example:
          – “Hey, Cersei, would you like a glass of wine?”
          – “What do you know about the prisoners, Varys?”
          – “Joffrey, I told you to stop terrorizing your betrothed!”
          – “You’re right, Tyrion. This is a horrible idea.”
          – “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

          But for whatever reason, the convention in salutations is to leave out that comma. (“Dear Sansa, I love your embroidery.”) Not sure WHY that’s the convention, but that’s what it is in pretty much every written document — print or email — I’ve ever seen.

          1. Rat Racer

            Just to clarify, starting a letter with “Hi, Jane” instead of “Hi Jane,” looks weird to me. “Dear, Jane” looks even more strange – obviously, because it is wrong :)

          2. Winter is Coming

            I’m so glad I started watching GoT, because I get all these references now! I’m so excited!! You guys are the reason I started watching it, and I’m hooked!

          3. fposte

            It’s not about the salutation–the punctuation convention remains the same in text body and in salutation. It’s that “Dear” is an adjective and “Hello” is an interjection. A single adjective forbids a following comma. “Dear, angelic Alison” could get a comma after “Dear” because it’s an adjectival sequence.

            If your correspondent is intoxicated, it’s “High Julie”; if you’re greeting your correspondent, it’s “Hi, Julie” :-).

          4. TootsNYC

            “dear” is an adjective, “Jane” is the noun, and it’s illegal to put punctuation between a modifier and its object.

            Well, illegal with the Grammar Police.

            1. Julie

              My point is that even if it were “Hi Jane,” the standard punctuation in salutations is to have the comma after — but not before — the person’s name. This is contrary to the way it’s done in most other aspects of speech (direct quotes, direct address in the body of a message, etc.), but it’s the standard. Seeing a comma in front of a person’s name, in a salutation, would just be strange and is rarely done.

              1. TootsNYC

                But “Hi” is not a salutation. “Dear” is.

                “Hi, Jane” is a sentence.
                “Dear Jane,” is an introductory clause (“Dear Jane, please contact me.” But you cap because you’ve started a new line.)

          5. LBK

            On the subject of commas in salutations, I loved this grammar geek moment in Hamilton when Angelica is obsessing over Alexander’s comma placement in a letter he wrote to her:

            In a letter I received from you two weeks ago
            I noticed a comma in the middle of a phrase
            It changed the meaning. Did you intend this?
            One stroke and you’ve consumed my waking days
            It says: “My dearest Angelica”
            With a comma after “dearest.” You’ve written
            “My dearest, Angelica.”

            The implication being that without a comma, “dearest” is a platonic adjective but with the comma, it’s a romantic noun. Interestingly this is not just a bit of lyrical genius on Miranda’s part but based on something Hamilton actually wrote in a letter to Angelica: “Adieu ma chere, soeur” (“Goodbye my dear, sister.”)

    1. Anonymous Ninja

      Sorry, but if I saw that I would assume the writer does not know how to write (even if it IS gramatically correct).

  24. Clever Name

    Your boss’ boss sounds like a nincompoop, but you probably still have to do it, if that’s what boss’ boss wants. At my last job, my manager told me signing off on an email with “thanks” was too casual for client correspondence, and I was to use “thank you”. I thought it was stupid and he was wrong, but I signed every damned email with “thank you”.

    1. OfficePrincess

      Though if they’re anything like my boss’s boss, they’ll move on to a new issue next week.

  25. Introvert at work

    About the only time I use “Dear” in email correspondence is when I’m writing a formal complaint to a company. For the past 10 years or so, I typically start of my business emails with “Hi ” or “Hello” to start off with a friendly tone.

    When someone uses “Dear ” I think “dear Lawd what do they want now?”

  26. Julie

    On a similar note, I once had a boss who refused to let me put any sort of sign-off salutation before my email signature. (“Best regards,” “Cheers,” “Thanks,” etc.) He claimed it “wasn’t professional.” I did what he said because he was my boss and that was what he told me to do, but it felt super-weird at the time.

    1. hermit crab

      I would find that really hard to do! Our office’s standard/habit/custom is to sign off with “Thanks” (even if we are not really thanking anyone), to the point where some people even include the “Thanks” as the first line of their signature block. That said, as long as you don’t use just “Best,” I think it’s fine. (Best regards, OK, sure. But just “best”? Best WHAT?!?!? It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me!)

      1. Mookie

        Ah, I’ve done the “best” routine. I’ve always taken it as the equivalent of “all the best,” or summat similar.

        1. Sarahnova

          Yeah, I vaguely read it as “best wishes”, or at least generally benevolent ones. (My actual best wishes are far too good for most of my colleagues.)

    2. TootsNYC

      I think he’s right, actually.

      Oh, not so unprofessional as to be a serious issue, but I think it’s sort of silly.

      I think you can say “Thanks,” but you are essentially be thanking someone, and not just sticking some sort of “outgoing verbiage” in there.

  27. CrazyCatLady

    The only time I use “dear” in email is to international business contacts because it tends to be more formal. I can’t imagine starting an email with dear in any other context.

  28. The Optimizer

    To some extent, I think it depends on the culture of the company and industry. I work with various industries in my job and I occasionally have to write to the one of the two CEOs of a very successful company that most of you would recognize the names of instantly and I always address them as Hello Cletus/Jeb. The entire company is very casual, though, and everyone just refers to them as Cletus & Jeb. When I’m writing to people in the same position at a more formal company/industry (such as finance) or a new client I haven;t been formally introduced to via email or otherwise, I am more formal at least until I get to know the person a bit, but even then I have very rarely used Dear Mr./Ms. Lastname.

  29. Hey Jane

    I’m totally neutral on almost any salutation, including lack thereof, but I really, really can’t stand “Hey Jane.” I’m glad to see that no one in the comments so far has listed that as an acceptable opening to a work email.

    1. Ad Astra

      This wouldn’t bother me, and I doubt I would even notice it — but my company’s culture is pretty buttoned-up, so I’m not sure it would go over well with some of my coworkers.

    2. OfficePrincess

      I have used it in a few instances, but only with people that I am always going back and forth with where the conversations are generally pretty informal. I’m sure I have a hundred emails of “Hey client, [minor system issue on your end seems to be happening] can you check on it? Thanks!” “Hey [colloquial description of problem] :-( Just redid”

      1. Hey Jane

        I think it might be a Pavlovian response on my part, because former bosses would only say “Hey Jane…?” when they were about to criticize me. In writing, even email, it just seems way too informal and juvenile. But then, I’m pretty uptight.

    3. The Optimizer

      I get emails from one of our sales guys all the time and all start out with “Hey guys…” EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
      Drives me insane!

      I also hear it in a Cartman voice…but maybe that’s just me?

  30. Amber Rose

    This whole discussion is pretty funny to me. I get emails that are Dear Amber. I usually get some variation of Hi or Hello. Sometimes it’s just my name. Frequently I get no salutation at all. And I have had text speak, bright colors, smiley faces, all caps, and fonts of all type and size. Sadly no wingdings yet.

    I have never considered any of this rude. I have never had anyone complain when I used a smiley face. It’s ok to have a job and be a normal human instead of a Miss Manners bot.

    That said, it’s probably not worth fighting your boss about. It’s just not something people pay much attention to.

  31. Julie

    Oh! I should also point out that there are some different conventions when you get into other languages. For example, here in Quebec some French doctors are really touchy about not using their first names. So when I used to correspond with the medical doctors on the Board of my small non-profit association, most of the English members would usually make it a point to tell me to use their first names after a few back-and-forth emails. But for some of the French doctors, no matter how long I’d known them, no matter how joking we were in our correspondence, insisted on being called “Dr. LastName.” So emails to them usually began “Bonjour Dr Stark,” (no period after the abbreviations in French). It was sometimes tricky when I was addressing both French and English doctors in the same email. :)

    1. OfficePrincess

      Anytime I’m sending an email to a group with mixed formality, I stick to “Good Morning/Afternoon.”

    2. MegEB

      I run into the same issue in the hospital I work at (I’m an admin to several doctors). Most doctors in my department prefer to be addressed as “Dr. So-and-So”, but there are a couple (including one of the ones I support) who prefer to be addressed by their first name, so when I’m writing an email to multiple doctors, it gets a little nervewracking. I’ve started doing what OfficePrincess does and just saying “Good afternoon” or even just “Hello”, and that’s been working fine.

    3. SL #2

      It’s funny that you bring up doctors– I’m in healthcare consulting and I default to Dr. Lastname unless I have express permission to use their first name (typically after I’ve met them in person!). But when I email their admins, I have to use Dr. Lastname regardless or else I get snide comments about it. Just one of those things…

      1. TootsNYC

        I went to see a doctor once who was referred to (in slightly dazzled tones) by everyone in his office (secretary, nurse, student doctors) as “Dr. Allen.”

        When he walked in, he reached out his hand to shake mine and said, “Hi, I’m Answorth.”

        It was the weirdest thing!

  32. Mena

    I’ve always thought “Dear” to be inappropriate in a business communication context – overly sentimental, familiar, too close. It is a loving term – entirely not called for. The criticism is unwarranted.

  33. Jennifer

    I’ve gotten “corrected” for this too. I hate calling everyone I don’t know my “dear,” but the higher-up required it, so I comply.

  34. INFJ

    I had a former boss who opened EVERY email message with “Dear INFJ,” and I always thought it was a little weird. I chalked it up to his overall very conservative/formal/fastidious manner (suit and tie every day, ridiculously organized [as in, actually used paper weights for the dozens of neatly stacked paper piles on his desk]). Nobody else in the office used “dear” for every email, so I was never really sure what I should do when emailing him. Go along with his style, or everyone else’s?

  35. Maxwell Edison

    All this reminds me of the episode of The Young Ones when they send a letter to the landlord. “Darling Fascist Bully-Boy: Give me some more money you b*stard.”

    1. fposte

      Or The Good Life, with Tom reading a letter demanding payment from a vendor: “Threat threat threat threat threat–your obedient servant.”

  36. Anonylicious

    I can’t ever bring myself to use “Dear So-and-So” in a work email, but I think that’s a large part because of the industry I’m in (defense). I’ll usually just go “(Rank/Title) Lastname” if it’s someone I’m not on familiar terms with, “Firstname” if we are familiar, or the much-maligned “Sir or Ma’am” if I don’t know who’s on the receiving end of my email. If it’s a group email, I can just start with “ALCON” (“all concerned”), and that makes things easier.

    No “Dear,” no “Hello,” just the above. I’d probably come off as pretty abrupt in most other industries.

  37. Anonymous Ninja

    Boss’s boss is an idiot. I’ve worked with idiots and I’ve found it very difficult to learn anything from them or advance my career with them. I recommend finding another job.

    I realize I will be blasted by other commenters for this – but it’s my opinion and based on my experiences.

  38. nerfmobile

    A while back, I had an employee who used the salutation “Greetings!” in her emails. Alas, she was working in a department with several men who had been of draft age during the Korean and Vietnam eras, and they were even decades later still un-nerved by it (as it was the salutation used by the draft board in letters back then). After a few comments from them, I had to ask her to please find another way to say hi!

  39. My deareſt Sir,

    For me, “dear” is sort of like a novelty necktie — too formal for modern casual situations, but too casual for situations still requiring formality. Dear is short for “My dearest” after all, which isn’t really something you would call a business acquaintance. :-) If “Hello” was too casual, maybe just their name? Something like:

    Ms. Smith,

    Blah.

    Regards,

    Blah Blah.

    If your boss expects pinkie-raising formality, there’s always “Sir:”, “Madam:”, “Gentlemen:” and “Mesdames:” :-)

  40. schnapps

    I work in an office of mostly women. Our one male coworker refers to himself as the token male, in an office of about 30 people.

    We got an email once from someone looking for an internship with one of our volunteer committees. The greeting? “Dear sirs”.

    We laughed and laughed. :)

  41. Kas

    The only emails I ever got that open with “Dear Kas” have been from a recently-widowed lady wanting my help to get her husband’s millions out of the country. Or from a corrupt government official. Or they’ve been notifications of a win in a lottery I don’t remember entering….

  42. DeLurkee

    I find this fascinating, because my industry and location treats it very differently. I’m in Australia in a professional finance role, and the majority of emails to clients or contacts commence with “Dear (Firstname)”.
    In a back-and-forth email exchange, the Dear would swiftly be replaced by “Hello (Firstname)” or “Hi (Firstname)” depending on the informality shown by the other writer.

    Because we frequently correspond with people in different time zones, it isn’t appropriate to use “Good morning / afternoon” as a default, since in lots of cases they will receive it in a different part of the day. (We do occasionally use it if messaging local contacts.)

    If sending to an email address that is a supplier’s department shared inbox, we might write “Dear Sir or Madam”, or if we know them well, “Dear Team” or “Hi Team”.

    I have two specific clients for whom my address is always “Dear Mr Lastname” or “Dear Mrs Lastname” because in each case they are very gracious people in their 80s and I would feel rude calling them by their first names. They don’t ask to be addressed formally, but they also don’t say “please call me Firstname” so I believe that they don’t find my address inappropriate.

    Clearly my experience is very different to the majority, given the other responses, and it’s really interesting to see how things are perceived in other contexts.

  43. Boo

    I used to work with someone who’d start all her emails with “Listen”. That’s the only time an opening word has made me want to reach through the screen and Gibbs-smack the emailer ;)

  44. BSharp

    I’m one of those cold-emailing vendors. My boss told me to start emails with “Percival,” because “Hello Percival,” feels presumptuous when he’s on the receiving end from a stranger.

    Um. Okay, sure, why not.

  45. Margaret Murgatroyd

    Count me in with the folks who think that this may vary somewhat by industry. I’m a college financial aid officer. Academia is weird, and I’m in arts-related academia (which is weirder) and writing to people about money (which is not all that weird but requires diplomacy).

    Sending e-mail to the parents of my students is the tricky one. Some parents feel intimidated by the school or by talking about money, so “Dear Mr. Lastname” and “Sincerely, Margaret Murgatroyd” makes them even more uncomfortable while “Hi Firstname” and “Best, Margaret” puts them at ease.

    On the other hand, some parents expect that when they talk to someone about large amounts of money the tone of the interaction will be formal and businesslike, and they’re already on edge about whether an arts institution employs real financial people who actually understand how to handle money. So “Dear Mr. Lastname” and “Sincerely, Margaret Murgatroyd” puts them at ease while “Hi Firstname” and “Best, Margaret” makes them feel as though their money issues aren’t being handled competently.

    I tend to default to “Dear Mr. Lastname” and “Best, Margaret Murgatroyd” and then adjust if the tone of their replies to my e-mails makes it clear that they prefer something else. It’s a balancing act.

  46. tiff

    To provide an alternative perspective, I’m working in an English-speaking European country with fairly laid back business culture, and addressing business emails with “Dear” would absolutely be seen as odd for a large sector of businesses. Government correspondence and physically-mailed business letters usually use “Dear”, but it’s quite stuffy/formal otherwise, and for email, “Hi”, “hello” etc. would by far be the standard.

    That being said, as I work in recruitment on a global scale, we get emails from candidates from various countries with very different sets of norms and think nothing of it. As long as the content is clear and it’s not meant to be belittling or cause offense, we don’t really care about the minutiae.

    But to use “Dear” ourselves to address our colleagues or clients? Not really done.

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