how to start an email, turning down an offer that a friend helped me get, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Am I selfish for not wanting people to mooch off my knowledge?

I am a proactive person, one who researches, calls people, gets stuff done. Lately, I am feeling as though everyone wants to mooch off my knowledge. For example, I am in grad school and for one of our subjects we have to organize to go to a museum and write a report on it. I googled the museum, and found out there’s this behind-the-scenes educational tour available. I called the rep, and set up a time for myself and my three friends. I told the lecturer and she told everyone in the lecture, and now everyone thinks I’m some sort of expert on the museum. I’m getting really frustrated that everyone wants to tag along, and continually asks me questions, when I know no more than the rest of them: I just happen to be proactive! They could have the same knowledge too, if they tried!

This isn’t an isolated example; often in my life, whether at work or school, I will get ahead by making things happen for myself and then people will try to, so to speak, ride on my coat tails. Is it wrong of me to be annoyed by this? It’s a competitive world, and we’re all competing for grades. If I can get myself an edge – well, I don’t want to share it! I know this is selfish thinking, but they too could have my knowledge if they tried. I literally did nothing more than go on their website and found a link for these educational tours and then call the woman. Anyone could do it. I was asking myself today “WWAD” (What Would Alison Do) but I can’t get past wanting to keep my extra information to myself (or my friends) and not the masses. Is this completely selfish? I have repeated so many times “check the museum’s website” but now everyone thinks I’m the holder of all the information for everything about the course and it’s getting out of control.

I don’t think it’s selfish to feel like you go the extra mile and then other people coast because you’ve eased the path for them. And it’s annoying when being good at something causes other people to behave as if they’re helpless because it just feels easier to have you do it for them, even when they should be handling said thing their own. (And these people sound particularly willing to lean on you unnecessarily and in an annoying way.)

But I don’t think you’re danger of your help leading to a situation where they win at your expense, because you’re the one who’s proving yourself the talented, driven one. Plus, you can and should set boundaries if you’re starting to feel like people are taking advantage of you. For example, if people come to you with questions about something they really should be figuring out for themselves, it’s fine to just say, “Oh, you should check ___; that’s what I do.” You’re not required to hand-hold them.

But more importantly, being a person with drive comes with benefits that far outweigh this annoying side effect: You’re going to end up with a great reputation for getting shit done, and that pays off in all kinds of ways.

2. Pronouns when opening a group email

I send a fair amount of emails, and I’m always unsure of what’s appropriate/polite/sane to say at the start of emails to groups with both men and women in them;

· “Hello people…”
· “hey guys…”
· “hey guys and gals…”
· “hello ladies and gentlemen…” (very formal for the groups I normally talk to)

Do you have any easy advice?

I started using “y’all” for that reason. It sounds southern, but it’s one of the only non-gendered ways of addressing a group that we seem to have and it’s fun to say. But there’s also “hi all,” “hi there,” and even just “hi,” followed by your message.

3. Turning down a job offer after my friend helped connect me

I have a job offer from Company A, largely due to my connection with my good friend. However, I have also received an offer from Company B, which I feel like is a better opportunity for me.

Would it reflect poorly on me to reject Company A’s offer after the effort my friend has put into getting me this connection? Would this also make my friend look bad at her work since she was the one who recommended me? I am so grateful for both opportunities and for my friend’s help during this stressful time of job searching, but ultimately I want to do what is best for my career (without burning bridges).

No, you’re totally allowed to turn down an offer if it ends up not being the best option to you. You’re in no way obligated to take the job just because your friend went to bat for you. That said, you are obligated to handle it as well as possible because of your friend: Tell the company your decision as soon as possible, thank them profusely for the time they spent with you, explain why you’re turning them down, and say that you’d like to stay in touch and hope there might be other possibilities for you to work together in the future. And give your friend a heads-up about the situation, obviously — and tell her how grateful you are for her help and that you’re sorry that it didn’t work out.

4. Can I ask for a referral bonus?

I’m relatively new at my company. They’re doing a lot of hiring and I just referred 3 guys who look like they’ll be getting picked up. Is it inappropriate to ask my boss if I’ll get a bonus for referring them?

You could say, “The company doesn’t have a bonus program for referrals, does it?” because some companies do have such a program. But getting a referral bonus at a company without an existing referral program would be pretty unusual, so you want to frame your query as asking about the existence of such a program.

5. Update: Can I report my friend for helping me lie on my resume?

Remember the letter-writer in January asking if she could tip off her friend’s employer that the friend had helped her lie on her resume (#2 at the link)? Here’s her update.

My situation is resolved. I had elaborated on it a bit more in the comments. It got a bit messy, as I knew it would. After some legal wrangling, I did get the money that she owed me back, but not before she tried to threaten to sue me and emailed my husband telling him what a terrible person I was, reiterating that I deserved everything bad that happened to me. I am SO glad I didn’t try to talk to her boss, as she did all the damage herself in the end, from what I’ve heard. She is blocked from all forms of communication with me, but she still attempts to get to me through other people. I choose to ignore her and live my life in peace!

On a much much happier note, I got a job! I followed your interview advice to the letter, and after 13 interviews, I got a job in my field after being off on maternity leave for 4 years. I started the other day and I am in a wonderful place. I start full time in a couple of weeks after transitioning back in next week for a few days.

{ 486 comments… read them below }

  1. A Teacher

    #2: my coworkers and I hate when our boss emails out Something like this:


    We will have a meeting at..

    I don’t know why we dislike it so much but enough people complained she now just says “good morning or good afternoon”

    1. Bridget

      Is it the abruptness that bothers you? I am scratching my head and can see nothing wrong with “team.”

          1. Jill

            My boss addressed us as “Team” yet she fostered an environment where we were forbidden from collaborating (everything had to funnel through her, even if you needed something from someone else to complete a task).

            So in this case, addressing us as “Team” was grating because it was so phony. If you want to call us Team, then let us actually interact with each other like one!

            I use “Hi All” or just “Hi”. There’s no need to name the group you’re addressing in some way.

              1. AO

                Emails that start off with “Hey Ladies” always reminds me of the hilarious series on The Toast:

      1. Dynamic Beige

        It sounds like the boss might be a Task Oriented Person vs. a Relationship Oriented Person. If you Google that term, you will see a lot of articles about it.

        It may seem that your boss is being dictatorial or not building a consensus but it could be that they are just focused on what they want to accomplish — having the meeting — and not considering that their words are rubbing people the wrong way. If it was phrased as “Good morning team! I’d like to have a meeting to discuss the progress on the new spout design this week. Let’s figure out what a good time to do that is” it’s softer in tone, but also could cause more problems with people not reaching that consensus of a time to actually meet.

        But then again, I often don’t lead off my e-mails with salutations, either, if we’ve already done them at the beginning of the conversation, so I’m sure I come across as brusque as well.

        1. Another Ellie

          I far prefer directives. I used to have a boss never told us what to do, instead he made suggestions and used phrases like “I’d like to…” “Maybe we should….” “Hey, how do you feel about…” It was awful. In some cases it might make sense to give options (“We need to meet to discuss X, does 2pm Wednesday or 10am Thursday work for you guys?”). But for the most part, his style meant that we never actually met or did anything else he wanted because everybody was unclear about what was going on.

          1. Jessa

            This. If you want me to do x, tell me to do x. Don’t go on and around about how x is lovely. Because I will take that as a suggestion, or just general conversation, not a directive and if I don’t think x makes sense, I’m not doing it. And then I get yelled at. There was a time when management trainers (those awful classes you had to go to with the canned presentations that really did nothing except waste time back in the 90s,) and this wishy washy communication style was king. That and a lot of “we” statements. It ended up with a lot of awful people in management.

    2. Ivy

      I am also curious what would bother people in this. I use it very often, whenever there is some shared connection (a project) among the people I am writing to. Seems more friendly than “Dear all”

    3. NJ anon

      We do not like our new boss. He starts emails “hi all.” Needless to say, we all avoid using it ourselves. Sounds silly, I know but just opening an email and seeing that is like nails on a blackboard.

        1. College Career Counselor

          I tend not to use “Dear All” which I think is stilted, or “Hi, All” which I think is awkward and too informal. In fact, I generally leave out the salutation if it is group comprised entirely (or even mostly) of people that I work with on a regular or semi-regular basis.

          This leads to “All,” “Everyone,” or “Colleagues,” (often used when including faculty in the list) when starting an email to multiple people. I might use “Folks,” if I’m feeling particularly informal that day. As always, YMMV depending on organizational culture, expectations, etc.

          1. Ann O'Nemity

            I picked up “Folks” when I was in academia and still use it for informal plural greetings. “Good morning,” and “Good afternoon,” are my other faves.

          2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

            My high school choir teacher used “folks,” especially when we were chatting and he needed to get our attention (sometimes accompanied by banging his hand on the piano. . .). I’ve picked it up from him, and still use it often. “Hi folks,” or “Hey folks,” but never “Howdy folks” because I’m not that colloquial. :P

            1. ggg

              The big boss often uses, “Gentlefolk of [organization]:” which I find kind of hilarious and charming.

        2. jmkenrick

          Me too, and variations.

          “Hey All,”

          “Good morning, everyone”

          “Happy Friday All! – “

      1. Ellie H.

        I guess this kind of thing is really subjective. I like and use “Hi all” or “Hello all” or even “Hi,” but what really grates on me is “Hello,”. I find the combination of the more formal “Hello” with no following noun really stilted.

    4. ac

      Is there some back story? I too don’t find it offensive, and have used “All” to start emails before (which seems similar). If the issue is the failure to use pleasantries to start, I think it’s very situational dependent, as I get annoyed when someone spends a paragraph on niceties I stead of getting to the point!

      1. Elle


        I work in engineering and any email sent to more than 2 people starts “All” and has no pleasantries.

      2. Lia

        I often have to send email to groups (committees, task forces, etc) and always start with “All”, unless it is only 3 people, in which case I would say “Mary, John, and Sally” or what have you.

    5. Rat Racer

      Or you could just say “Good morning,” and leave off the plural pronoun. If I am feeling cute, I might say something like “Greetings comrades;” if I’m addressing someone very senior and copying her team, I often say “Hello Lavinia and Implementation Team,”

      1. De Minimis

        I’m big on the “Good Morning” or sometimes “Hello Everyone” I don’t have to e-mail teams or groups very often, but when I do those are usually my two mainstays.

      2. JB

        I would love to receive a work email that started with “Greetings comrades.”

        Sometimes I say “Greetings,” but I’m saying it like Toto from the movie Palm Beach Story, and since it’s email, nobody knows.

        As a Southerner, I support the use of “y’all.” It’s quite useful.

        1. Blue Anne

          I’m over in the UK and we’ve just had a manager transfer in from Baton Rouge. He says y’all all the time and we love him for it.

          1. JB

            :) If you aren’t careful, you might start saying it, too. It’s easy to say and convenient, so it sometimes creeps into people’s vocabulary without them realizing it.

            1. JB

              I say that because I actually managed to stop saying it for a bit because I know some people don’t like it. But it crept back in. Like swearing and coffee, I just can’t keep away from it for too long.

            2. LisaS

              I went to elementary school in North Carolina in the ’60s and I *still* say y’all, even after 40 years in L.A. & some sustained effort to stop doing so. It’s the only non-gendered, clearly plural “you” pronoun we have…

              1. Kay the Tutor

                (Changing my username from “Kay” because I’ve noticed someone else using it for awhile)

                This is definitely something that the South has “solved”. Most other languages (French, Spanish, etc) have a word for the plural of you. They also (conveniently) have verb conjugations for that form so it’s abundantly clear. English just doesn’t have that. I don’t usually use y’all much in writing, but in speech, I use it all the time when talking to a group.

          1. SanguineAspect

            Only if you also read it with a Russian accent. :)

            I like throwing “Denizens” into the mix. Rarely as a greeting unless it’s to a particular group. Like: “Greetings, Help Desk Denizens.”

      3. BananaPants

        That works for a lot of people. My issue is that emails are often addressed to groups with individuals located in North America, Europe, and Asia – if it’s morning for me, it’s afternoon or evening for the rest of the team, so “Good morning” or another time-based salutation won’t work. As a result I tend to go with, “All”, “Everyone”, or “Team” as my form of address in emails.

        1. matcha123

          As someone who lives in Japan and gets emails for work from people overseas, I can assure you no one is offended if you say “Good Morning” in an email when it’s night here.
          Just a few weeks ago we took a phone call from North America where we said “Good Morning,” since it was the morning for us.

          1. Judy

            In my previous job, I would have calls in my (early) morning, that was just afternoon for the team in Europe, and early evening for those in India. They’d all say “Good morning, Judy” and I’d say “Good evening” or “Good afternoon” to them.

        2. LJL

          THat’s never bothered me or anyone that I’ve worked with across time zones. In fact, we often laugh about it. Casually, we’ve even said “good whatever time of day it is for you. ” :-D

    6. PeculiarHR

      I also dislike “Hi Team.” Haven’t figured out why exactly, but it rubs me the wrong way. Kind of like when people write, “do the needful.”

      1. EA

        Often (but not always), when I see “do the needful” in an email, it’s from someone who is not a native speaker of English. That one doesn’t annoy me as much as when the email starts “Hello (My Last Name)”

    7. Partly Cloudy

      When I send emails to the entire staff, I use the greeting “Hello Team.” When I send to a small group of two or more people, I usually use “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” or “Hello.” I’ve never had any complaints, but now I wonder if people are secretly seething when they read my group emails.

    8. Jennifer

      Oh, I haaaaaaaate being called “team.” I can’t explain it either, I just want to yell something like “this isn’t football!”

    9. Ashley

      I also use Team, a lot. It works really well for client emails (I work at an agency) when I’m emailing multiple people. And I like that it reinforces that we’re all in this together!

    10. Chris

      This is fascinating! I use “team” all the time, I will have to rethink it. I think I use it to clarify that my email is addressed to only the team.

      1. Christy

        When I need to email one of our group email boxes, like Spout-Drip_Prevention@TeapotsUnlimited, I always use “Hi Team.”

        I’ve never been bothered by receiving this type of greeting, and it sure beats opening an email and finding the greeting “Gentlemen,” (IIRC, I was only cc’ed, but still).

  2. one whose name was writ in water

    3: Absolutely it’s okay to turn the job down! In recent years I’ve tried to help many people get jobs with my company, and I always start out with the understanding that there is no obligation, and that they need to take the job that suits them. And it often ends with Bad News / Good News: they didn’t take the job with my company – but they did land a job somewhere else! I’m totally okay with that, and I will go so far as to say that anyone who is helping another person job hunt is either a) okay with that, too, or b) needs to align their head so that they’re okay with it.

    1. Jessa

      Exactly, anyone who cares about you enough to recommend you would NOT want you to be stuck in a job you don’t like, or turned out to be slightly different than you thought (or that they told you it would be.) If you have a better offer, take it, just do what Alison said and not reflect badly on the person who pitched you.

  3. Eric

    #2: I see e-mails addressed to “All,” or even “Dear All,” a lot. Not a huge fan of it, but it works.

    1. PEBCAK

      “Dear all” or “Hello everyone” not only work, but they are inclusive of anyone who doesn’t identify on the gender binary. I think they are both preferable to anything that mentions men or women or ladies or gents or guys or anything else.

        1. UKAnon

          And I’ve just realised I could never say that because I automatically read it in the voice of Dr Nick.

            1. AW

              If the email is about good news you can do, “Good news, everyone!” and read it in the voice of Dr. Farnsworth.

              1. Persephone Mulberry

                This is a standard greeting in my house.

                (My daughter is old enough now to be on most of my husband’s and my geek bandwagons, and the three of us can have entire conversations made up only of TV and movie quotes.)

          1. OriginalEmma

            As soon as I read that question, I thought “hello everybody!” in the Dr. Nick voice too. We’re The Simpsons generation.

        2. Lily in NYC

          That’s my go-to as well. But I think today I’m going to start using “What’s up, Hosers?” and see how it goes.

        3. Elizabeth West

          I say that too, or just “Good morning/afternoon.” Just “Hi” sounds too abrupt to me. If I’m sending to one person, I say “Hi Buffy,” or “Hi Xander.”

      1. Cat

        I was just going to ask what people think of this one. I like it too but am never sure if it’s going to be read as too . . . well, folksy, or something.

      2. HRManagerNW

        I’ve been using “folks” for years in communications – for my team or for groups of employees. No one has complained or made comment yet and I do work with folks who would speak up.

      3. Anonsie

        Me, too. For me it’s either “hi folks” or “hello all” depending on whether I think I can get away with calling those specific people folks.

    2. Koko

      I use y’all a lot, also “folks.” Folks is also my go-to word for a large group of people I’m referring to rather than addressing. “We want to make sure folks get their tea packages on time,” or “Folks won’t know how to use the upgraded spout unless we include an instruction sheet.”

      1. Anon369

        Ha, “folks” is what I use to convey annoyance, which I picked up from a colleague. “Folks, why is XXX taking so long?”

  4. Mike

    #2: Drop it completely and get to the point of the email. Emails aren’t letters and don’t require salutations.

    1. Anonymous1973

      I disagree. A good morning or good afternoon is a great opener and much less abrupt. Having said that, I don’t think we really need to over think it.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      eh, nah. I do a ton of communicating with suppliers across the country, in groups within that company, and that approach would come across as “top/down”. You gotta be friendly if you want to get people to put your stuff ahead of the other guy’s stuff.

      I’m a
      “Hey folks”
      “Hey guys” (gender neutral usage)
      “Hey everybody”
      “Hello Vendorname Team” (in a cheeky way, if they are good friends)

      I’ve built a lot of warm relationships through email only (please do not call me on the phone) and written friendliness matters.

      1. Sweetheart of the Rodeo

        I really hate being called a guy. I know that imagining it as gender-neutral is common and even cool (i.e. professional falling-downer Jennifer Lawrence talking about her female friends as “her guys”) but I think it subtly implies that men are the only ones worth talking to and listening to and contributes to a misogynist culture — because language has power, and I’m an old-school feminist. Just “hi” is much better than “hi guys.”

        1. Gandalf the Nude

          Yeah, using “guys” as a gender-neutral address contributes to the phenomenon where male is regarded as the default gender.

          I prefer “folks” or “everyone” if I feel like I need to address the group, but I usually just go with “Good morning/afternoon”.

          1. jag

            “Folks” reminds me of politicians trying to sound folksy.

            Inside a team that interacts a lot, I think no salutation is best. With less close colleagues, I use “Hi” or sometimes what they used with me if they are not too formal (or nothing if they use nothing with me).

            1. Gandalf the Nude

              Oddly, that’s sort of how I use it, being a northerner working in a southern city. I often find that affecting a bit of southern charm gets me better results. …But also because I love Westerns and purposely worked “howdy” and “folks” and “darlin'” into my lexicon because they’re fun to say!

          2. Calla

            Yep! “Guys” is only gender-neutral because we accept the male/masculine as neutral/default. Does it personally hurt me if someone addresses an email that way? No, but it’s symptomatic of that larger thing. I consciously avoid using it and instead use “hi all” “hey everyone” “hey there” “y’all” “folks” (the last two can be grating from some people, but I’m Southern so I’m allowed!) etc where appropriate. It’s not difficult.

          3. Artemesia

            I have just adopted you’all when in the past I would have used you guys — this is the south’s great contribution to the language. I know the plural you is the same thing but it doesn’t feel the same. I do it however usually when talking with a group or team — in Emails often I use nothing. In a Professional context I will use a normal letter address or imitate whatever the professional contact used when contacting me. Or to a group perhaps you’all.

          4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            Eh, not really true.

            The origin of the word “guy” is from Guy Fawkes, and it started out to be an insult, calling somebody a terrorist. Was there a point where it was only used for men? I’m sure there was but literally, not in my long lifetime, in the area where I live.

            IMO and in the usage of people in my area “guy” does not equal and has not equaled “male”. When I was still required to wear skirts to public school because I was a girl (circle 1967/68), the teacher would yell “hey guys! settle down” to the class as a whole.

            1. Gandalf the Nude

              That it started to encompass women before you were born does not erase the fact that it did have to come to encompass women, that it was originally a male address. I’m having a hard time finding a detailed etymology, but from what I can find, it does indeed come from Guy Fawkes (Cool! I learned something today!) but still referred to men exclusively up through the early-mid 20th century. I do find that rather tangential to the point, though, since it’s the present use of “guys” that’s really being discussed here.

              I understand that locally to you “guys” has not equaled “male” in a long time, but you shouldn’t ignore that elsewhere “guys” is widely regarded as synonymous with “men”. There are examples of it all over this thread and in the OP’s letter. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have the phrasings “guys and gals” or “guys and dolls”. I wouldn’t have my CFO starting a meeting with, “Good morning, guys! Oh, and gals!”

              Moreover, and feel free to correct me since I’m not local to you, I suspect that “guy” not equaling, or at least implying, “male” is not wholly true. Would you refer to a woman in the singular as a guy? If you pointed at a crowd of people and said “That guy!”, would the person you’re speaking to not look for a man? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, please, PLEASE tell me because I would honestly be delighted and relieved! If you can’t, though, I don’t see how you can argue that “guys” is truly gender neutral.

              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

                Lookit, I will team with you on many gender linguistic arguments. People look at me like I’m a dinosaur when I call out a man for referring to my female direct report team as “the girls” or “your girls”, and even the women who work with me are more indulgent of me than 100% convinced of necessity that the word is “women” and not “girls” when referring to women in the work place. I was all over “postal carrier” v “post man” or “post woman” before the current young adult generation was even born.

                So mostly, I’m team you but I will not budge on this one. “Hey guys” has included me my entire life. Anyone who says that I don’t belong, that I’m not a member of the friendly, jovial and inclusive “Hey guys” because I am woman — nope.

        2. LBK

          Does this actually bother people? I obviously understand the idea of gendered language but IME “guys” has taken on a really gender-neutral tone in most cases. I rarely ever use it to specifically mean men.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale

            Oddly, I don’t mind “guys” but I hate “ladies”, especially when the email comes from a man.

            1. the gold digger

              I hate “ladies”

              Plus in diversity training, they teach you that calling women “ladies” is the equivalent of calling them prostitutes.

              (Don’t ask me. I don’t get it, either. But it was on the list of forbidden terms.)

              1. LBK

                I mean, maybe if you call them “ladies of the night”…but I really hope no one is addressing emails that way.

                1. Hlyssande

                  When I read ‘ladies of the night’ I couldn’t help but sing it mentally a la ‘music of the night’ from Phantom and I have no idea where that came from.

                  But yeah, ‘ladies’ is generally a bad way to address a group of women. It makes me think of prim and proper church ladies (grandma was a preacher’s wife and definitely upheld the standard).

                2. CH

                  Funny, like Hlyssande, I immediately thought of a show tune. In my case, it was “Lovely Ladies” from Les Miserables, which of course was sung by the prostitutes. So maybe that is where that comes from.

              2. JB

                For me it’s definitely not ok, but only because when I was younger, I went to a school with a guy who would call use that, and it definitely felt wrong. Patronizing? It felt inappropriate. We would actually joke (not with him) that it felt like he was calling us prostitutes. Most men can say it without being offensive, but as a guy, how do you know if you’re someone who can’t?

                Plus, there is a small percentage of the male population who says it in a particularly creepy way. They say it like they think are being gallant or friendly, but it’s creepy. NotAllMen! But they are out there. And sometimes it’s better to just lay down a blanket rule rather than telling people they can say it, but only if they do it right.

              3. BethRA

                I have never heard of “ladies” as the equivalent of someone a prostitute (outside of the specific “ladies of the night”), and even my friend Googles can’t find a link, so I suspect that’s an urban legend someone latched onto.

                It’s still inappropriate unless you’re also calling the men in the room “gentlemen,” though, both of which seem incredibly stiff for an email.

                1. Faith

                  May I complain for a moment? I watch true crime TV, and it irks me no end when someone refers to the defendant in a trial as ‘the gentleman’, especially while recounting something gruesome. In my head, I hear a little voice saying ‘but he’s not a gentleman’.

                  Of course, I think that there are many males who, although having reached an age of 25 are not gentlemen either, I generally only crinkle my nose at the reference to those of the criminal class.

              4. Faith

                Good grief. These ‘they’ must really spend their time creating reasons for their existence, it must seem. Personally, I dislike ladies but not for the reason you’ve reported.

            2. LBK

              That’s one I always find interesting. It seems like “lady” in general has taken on a really negative connotation, which I find odd since it comes from lofty and formal origins (ie lords and ladies). Is it just because people use it derisively sometimes when referring to a woman they don’t care for?

              1. Hlyssande

                Actually, it has more to do with the fact that women and girls are socialized from very early childhood to ‘be a lady’, be quiet, be agreeable, be mature, and don’t make waves, even when boys are encouraged to be loud, rough, and playful at the same time.

                I recently saw a fantastic comic that illustrated this perfectly, by someone remembering a day in her high school math class. The boys were picking on her, trying to copy her work, harassing her in general, but when she snapped and retaliated or refused to help them, she was the one who got in trouble. Her (female) teacher had a talk with her basically telling her that she expected the boys to act up, but as a girl the author needed to set a better example and never get angry at them.

                1. jag

                  What Hlyssande said.

                  I’ll add that I’ve used Lady in a salutation a few times in email – but was actually writing an English noblewoman….

                2. Jennifer

                  “Call me a lady and i feel like I’m wearing a white dress and can’t go splashing through mud puddles.” –Cynthia Heimel

                3. Elizabeth West

                  All I can think of now when someone says “ladies” is David Walliams in drag, saying, “I don’t know anything about cars, because I’M A LADY!”

              2. Fuzzy

                I used to have a babysitter who called my sisters and I “ladies” or would just say “hi lady,” which always made me feel fancy. So I find that I use it in more of a “hey girl” fashion.

                1. cuppa

                  I had a coworker that used to great people, “Hey Lady” (we were friendly; I’m not sure I would advocate saying it to everyone) It never bothered me, but I can see where others may not like it.

                2. Artemesia

                  In Europe a fair number of people, particularly those with weak tourist English who are trying to sell something will call you ‘Lady’ — it always feels like ‘hey lady’ from Jerry Lewis when they do it. It is their equivalent of Madam which would be a polite form of address in French but not in English. They would be better off using Madam but they are trying to speak our language.

                3. Snork Maiden

                  I use it with my close women acquaintances as a wink-wink-nod-nod, as it is clear none of us would fit or aspire to the traditional definition of “lady”. Especially effective as a contrast to my, um, more colourful expressions.

            3. Ife

              You’ll have to excuse my complete ignorance of pop culture, but is it the “big butts” song where the singer keeps chanting “LADIES” followed by some sort of drum? Anyway, that’s how I always, every time, read the word “ladies” when it’s addressing a group of people. It’s hard for me to take it seriously.

              “You Guys,” on the other hand, is totally neutral for me. I regularly address my all-female friend group as “you guys.” But I try to stay away from it in other settings, because I know people read it as male (which is the logical reading, seeing as how “I saw a guy” means you saw a man, not a woman). “(Hello) Everyone” is my go-to for group emails.

            4. Nancypie

              I don’t like ladies, but I will take it a thousand times over something addressed to Girls.
              Not that that’s ever happened professionally, but I have a friend I volunteer with and she will start group emails to our co-volunteers with a Hi girls! Ick. I’m an adult.

          2. Hlyssande

            The only reason it’s gender neutral, so to speak, is because masculine is considered normal.

            It doesn’t bother or upset me specifically, but I never use it because it contributes to the overall culture of anything non-masculine being devalued and seen as less than.

            Gandalf the Nude and Calla both said it better than me above. :)

            1. LBK

              Now this whole idea has me thinking about languages with built-in gendered references…for example, in French, you would use the male form of an adjective to describe a group that includes both men and women. You only use the female form of the adjective if it’s exclusive women in the group. In English we have flexibility since we don’t have gender so heavily built into it, but I wonder how these kinds of subtle reinforcements play in other languages. Do you have to invent new gender-neutral versions of every word?

              1. Elsajeni

                I only know a bit about this, and only as it relates to Spanish, but there are people actively trying to create gender-neutral word endings (replacing “-o/a” on nouns and adjectives). The most common ones I’ve seen are “-x” or “-@”; there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on how you pronounce either one, and people disagree over whether one or the other is more inclusive of non-binary genders (versus just being “gender-neutral” in the sense of including both men and women), but I don’t think it’ll be that long before some sort of consensus is reached and some version of a gender-neutral ending becomes mainstream.

                1. Ife

                  I’ve seen the “-@” ending with Latin@, but never heard it pronounced. I’m curious how people pronounce it. My non-native-speaker brain tries to read it as either “Latinoa” or just pretends the @ isn’t there: “Latin…”

                2. LBK

                  I hear it as kind of a wiggly, wavy alien noise? Like “Latinowowowow…” training off the way the sound of a spaceship would as it flew away. I’m positive that’s not the preferred pronunciation but I think it should be.

                3. Elsajeni

                  @Ife: I think some people pronounce it “ow,” as if it were “Latinao,” and some people treat it as just a written placeholder, equivalent to “Latino/a,” and pronounce it with whatever ending would normally be used given who they’re talking to/about. I like the “ow” version! But I can see why some people consider it to still exclude non-binary folks (if you’re using a character that sort of looks like an a and an o combined, and pronouncing it as if it were an a and an o combined, you’re still kind of leaving out people who are neither an -o nor an -a).

          3. Gandalf the Nude

            Yes, but think about the process by which “guys” became “gender-neutral.” You notice it wasn’t “gals” that made that leap? It’s another type of erasure. Not necessarily a huge deal on its own but definitely reflective of a larger problem. And it does bother me and plenty of other people. I don’t throw a fit about it every time I hear it, but if there’s time and I’m in the right mood, I’ll call the person out on it (even if that person is me!).

            1. JB

              Exactly. If we were truly being gender-neutral by using a word traditionally used to describe one gender, then nobody would think twice if you referred to a mixed group of people, or a group of just men, with the word “gals.” Instead, if you use the word “girls” or “gals” to introduce a group of men, it’s usually treated or intended as either (1) a joke or (2) an insult. If it were neutral, it wouldn’t produce that reaction. But we’re supposed to not feel that way when addressed as “guys.”

              1. Gandalf the Nude

                “Instead, if you use the word ‘girls’ or ‘gals’ to introduce a group of men, it’s usually treated or intended as either (1) a joke or (2) an insult.”

                Yes, calling a group of men “ladies”, “girls”, “gals”, etc. is nearly guaranteed to be taken as a shot at the men’s masculinity, but somehow the opposite is expected to not be true. A man taking offense to being called a gal is justifiably upset, but a woman taking offense to being called a guy is overly-sensitive.

                “If it were neutral, it wouldn’t produce that reaction. But we’re supposed to not feel that way when addressed as ‘guys.'”

                This. And, in fact, we’re often supposed to feel complimented, as in we’re one of the guys or can keep up with the guys, since that’s obviously preferable to being a gal or just part of the group in general without bringing gender into it at all.

                1. Dan

                  This argument seems to run counter to the whole “were all the same, so treat us all the same” and “women and men should be treated equally”. If you’re not “one of the guys”, then you’re not the same, no matter how loudly you say that you are.

                  Someone upthread (sorry, I can’t seem to find it to give proper credit) said something about our a culture of anything non-masculine being devalued and thought to be less important – I don’t think that way, and I know only a handful of men that do. I think women are wonderfully different and I love them for it. Thinking women are somehow “less” or even “the same” as men is silly to me. It’s like arguing about apples and oranges.

                2. Pennalynn Lott

                  So, Dan, if you’re standing there with a couple of male coworkers, you’d be fine if someone said to the three of you, “How are you gals doing today?”

                3. Dan

                  No, I wouldn’t be. But I’m also not arguing that “were all the same, so treat us all the same” and “women and men should be treated equally”. Men and women are NOT the same – apples and oranges.

                4. Marcela

                  Dan, many people confuse equality with equity. We do not want to be treated as we were the same as men, because as you say, we are not. What we want is the have the same fairness (if you can say it this way) or get the same justice or be evaluated, paid or promoted using the same scales.

          4. Traveler

            Doesn’t bother me at all. I understand where it came from, and that we use it because male was the original “default” – but to me it’s just gender neutral now. I actually prefer it to “ladies/women/people” etc. because I feel like it doesn’t sound as patronizing or forced, but that’s just me.

            So that said, when I’m encountering a new group of people for the first time and I don’t know how they feel about it, I use “all” or “people” or something more inclusive.

          5. Anonsie

            I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s patently offensive or anything. I just avoid doing it and I think it’d be cool if it stopped being so standard for reasons already discussed.

        3. OriginalEmma

          It must be a regional thing. In NJ/NY it’s “hey guys,” equivalent to the southern “hi y’all.” For the REAL old-school, it’s “yous guys,” but it’s never “Hey, you guys!” because that way too Goonies for me.

          1. Sunflower

            I’m in Philly and we refer to any group of people as ‘guys’ ex: ‘what are you guys thinking’. I talk to people all over the country and have to stifle a laugh when someone says ya’ll. I just can’t get into it!!

            1. De Minimis

              Ha, now I know I’m old, when I hear “Hey You Guys” I think of The Electric Company!

              1. Payroll Lady

                OMG… No I have that going through my head!!!! And of course the Electric Company brings you to…….. ZOOM…….. (and I can STILL repeat the address!!)

          2. Anonicorn

            Not having finished my coffee yet, I tried to “like” this comment and realized I couldn’t.

          3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            Completely true. It’s our “ya’ll” and I’m nottagonnabe swayed on that. It’s been gender neutral for the 53 years I’ve been alive, not something that changed to be inclusive of the us spunky women folk as times changed.

          4. Anonsie

            Well, we use “guys” in the south, too. I hear people say y’all plenty in NY as well, I think the bigger difference is that southerners will actually write it down whereas elsewhere it’s more like a verbal-only colloquialism.

        4. jamlady

          More cultural. I always say “hey guys” and “you guys”. I grew up in Los Angeles, but my current Texan culture doesn’t like that phrase haha. They much prefer “y’all” (and I must admit, it’s a handy term). My grandma always said “you’uns” haha that one is not my favorite.

        5. Kas

          Yes, I feel the same. The speaker/writer can intend as much as they like to be as inclusive, but I still feel excluded by terms like “guys” or “dude”.

          In my own usage, I find “folks”, “everyone”, “team”, “colleagues” to work. They fit the contexts I need, and I don’t get pulled up short when they are used by others.

        6. Faith

          Having grown up in the Chicago area, ‘guys’ is a neutral greeting. I was in college when the feminists starting attacking the usage of male pronouns. I thought it was ridiculous then and still think it is. To me, ‘guys’ is a series of 4 letters that go together to indicate a group of people, not subtle misogyny.

          You can have your ‘truth’, I’ll keep mine.

      2. JB

        Agreed. It’s still a letter, just in electronic form. If I answered the phone and somebody just launched into what they wanted to ask or tell me without starting with at least a “Hey” or “Hi,” I’d be a little annoyed. Same with if someone burst into my office and said, “I need that case summary!” without starting with a greeting of some kind. Small courtesies matter. I’m not saying they need to break out a book on the intricacies of proper formal correspondence. Just something.

        1. jag

          “It’s still a letter, just in electronic form. ”

          No it’s not necessarily a letter in electronic form. People used to write notes on paper that were less formal than letters, and some of us still do.

          And on the phone, with close colleagues, it’s not rare to start off with “JB, this is Jag, do you have a minute” or even “JB, this is Jag” and start talking.

          And people can walk (not “burst”) into your office and say “JB, I need that case summary.” They don’t have to say “Hi JB, I need that case summary.”

      3. jhhj

        But after some time, presumably the group knows you and leaving off an occasional salutation wouldn’t be an issue?

        FYI, although people might USE guys intending to be gender-neutral, it’s not interpreted as that as a general rule, it’s interpreted as meaning men plus the add-on of women — there’s a lot of research on this, it’s one of those implicit things we don’t realise we believe.

        1. JB

          Oh, that’s interesting. I think you just put into words why it bothers me. It doesn’t bother me when a woman uses it to a group of women, but it bothers me when a man uses it to address a mixed group. Not a lot, not enough to think of the man who used it, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. I always ignored the annoyance because I couldn’t think of a reason why it bothered me. I think this is why.

        2. Dan

          …it’s interpreted as meaning men plus the add-on of women…

          Is that not the same as, ” Hey guys (I know there’s men and women in the group, but gender doesn’t matter here, so listen up)…”? Seems like a good thing :-/

          1. jhhj

            No, it means “hey men [and women I guess also but I really mean men]”.

            By this please read: research has shown that our brains interpret it this way even if we say we think “guys” is non-gender-specific and it is not that people use it in an effort to exclude women, it’s that our immediate neurolinguistic response is different from our considered response.

            1. Dan

              I don’t know. I’d have to read the research, but it smacks of looking for a reason to be upset when there really isn’t one.

              1. jhhj

                I’m not upset. I think it’s used with all the best intentions most of the time. If you want to keep using it, either because you think that I am wrong about the research or because you think it doesn’t matter, go for it. I tried to stop using it once I read more about it, but don’t comment when I hear it.

                But some people have said that they find it slightly irritating, especially when men insist that it is totally gender-neutral. It’s up to you to decide how this affects what you do. I don’t think that this one word is important enough to keep using. Maybe you disagree.

              2. jhhj

                This is also a bit because there is a very clear non-gender neutral use of guys (“I’m going out with the guys”, “He’s such a guy”, “Pat’s a good guy”, “I met a tech guy who helped”), and so it’s hard to separate this out from the intended gender neutral use of “Hi guys, how is it going”.

                1. Dan

                  You know, regardless of how “I” feel about the word, it makes sense for me to be conscious of and to reduce my use of it since it seems to bother a larger number of women than I expected.

                  Live and learn, right?

      4. Windchime

        I’m from the northwest, and “you guys” is the equivalent of “y’all”. It truly does mean, “you group of people”, not “males”. I honestly find it kind of strange when someone who is not from the south uses “y’all”. I’m not sure why; it just strikes me as being odd.

        1. CH

          I’m from the north (a state surrounded on 2 sides by Canada) but have lived in northern Virginia for 20+ years. I find that I occasionally will say “y’all,” — it is handy as others have said, but I never write it.

        2. Partly Cloudy

          “Y’all” can come across as fake if it’s not accompanied by a southern accent. Even if the person is trying to be sincere.

          1. Anonsie

            I gotta strongly disagree with that one. For one, the majority of people who live in the south don’t have stereotypical accents. Second, people use y’all all over the country all the time.

        3. Dan

          I’m from the PNW too and I completely agree.

          Although, I’ll slip in a “y’all” every once-in-a-while just for giggles

    3. BRR

      I think this is fine for some emails. If you send a couple back and for about something it’s weird to greet every time. Just throw in a Hello everyone for a group and you’re set.

    4. LBK

      Disagree. I don’t like getting emails at the start of a conversation that don’t open with a salutation, it just feels a little rude to me. If we’re going back and forth in emails you can drop it after the first 2-3 (I usually do) but at least the first one should have it.

      1. Jennifer

        Yeah, you will be dinged for being “rude and abrupt and demanding” if you don’t wheedle and small talk from the start of the e-mail. Or so I got told yesterday, again.

        1. LBK

          Oh, I don’t do that and I hate it too. I don’t need you to say “How’s your day going? Hope you’re having a good Monday!” at the beginning of every email, but I do like a “Hi”.

    5. fposte

      That would ruffle people here–a salutation is key on both group and individual emails, as is thanks or signature. Otherwise you’ll sound peremptory and be treated accordingly.

      1. jamlady

        Nothing better than having orders barked at me in an e-mail first thing in the morning. Not even a “hello”? Rude.

    6. Sunflower

      I think a salutation in an email is one of those things you don’t notice until it’s not there. I don’t worry about them when I’m writing to a boss or coworker who I talk to every single day but when it’s someone you aren’t super familiar with, you should write something. But don’t stress about what you write, it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s a greeting of sorts

      1. JB

        I still use them when writing a boss or coworker I told to every day, but only when I start the email. If they reply, and I reply back, I’ll skip it.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        Exactly what I wanted to jump in and say. I don’t think I ever use a salutation in emails, except maybe when emailing interviewers or someone else who doesn’t know me or may have only met me once or twice. But I can’t think of the last time I wrote a work email that wasn’t to people that I speak to almost every day, so I start with “So you may have noticed that the teapot spouts are now straight rather than curved. This is a design change that….” blah blah blah.

        I wonder if it has to do with people who are used to written correspondence. I was going to say generational, but I’m a Gen Xer, and my generation has both luddites and early adopters.

    7. Lee

      Especially when many people can see most of the first sentence on their computers before even opening the email.

    8. H

      Yup. Most people at current place of employment do this, and I didn’t even notice until this conversation prompted me to check. If you’re worried about it, just leave it off and get to the point.

    9. Persephone Mulberry

      I’m in the Wakeen/fposte camp – that is, I don’t care (I don’t even notice, really) if YOU don’t use a salutation, but I can’t bring myself to not use one, even internally. It feels like walking into someone’s office and just starting talking, instead of leading with “hey, got a minute?”

      …Okay, in parsing this out more, I’m realizing I apparently have very complex unwritten rules for when I use salutations in email. Wow, now I’m going to be hyperaware of this all day.

      I also still habitually sign off with my name (first only) despite the From: line and an auto signature.

      1. cuppa

        I think some of it is work culture, too. I used to work in a office where it was common to get a blank e-mail with the statement in the subject line. In my current place, that would be considered most rude and you would probably get a talking to.

        1. skyline

          I wish my office would do this more often. I usually use it if there’s a situation where someone needs a quick response (put answer in the subject line + “(eom)” as a clue), though I don’t use it for the initial message in a conversation. I think it’s used more by managers, as we’re all dealing with higher volumes of messages and more conscious of the benefit of saving time that way.

        2. LBK

          Weirdly, I am staunchly in favor of salutations but actually don’t mind subject line-only messages with EOM. If you only need one line to get your point across, don’t waste a subject line and body text doing it.

    10. AW

      That only works in replies. At minimum you need a salutation so that the reader is sure the e-mail is actually meant for them.

      It would be great if no one ever sent email to the wrong address but every once in a while Lucy Peterson is going to get a message meant for Lacy Peterson and it’s a lot easier to catch that if you include who was supposed to get it. (Sometimes the content makes that obvious but not always.)

  5. one whose name was writ in water

    2: I have fun mixing it up, trying different things just based on my mood. There tends to be a message and a mood to every email, and I’ll use that to start free associating. Sometimes a very formal “Ladies and Gentlemen”. Sometimes a less formal “Ladies and Gentlemen (and Bill and Ted)”, sometimes “Yo!”, sometimes “Hello Party People!”, sometimes “Greetings:” – and sometimes just a simple “Hello” is the best option.

    Admittedly, this is not an approach that will work for everyone.

    1. C Average

      Based on your examples, I have a feeling you are fun to work with. And your screen-name-of-the-moment makes me want to dig out my dog-eared “Keats’s Poems.”

          1. C Average

            Jealous! I wrote my senior paper in college about Keats’ use of caesura. I spent whole days sitting under my favorite tree on campus reading Keats and taking illegible notes. Wonderful times.

    2. Kathlynn

      The problem with the first two you show here is that they are not gender neutral and could/would alienate people who do not belong to the ‘traditional’ genders.

      I personally second Y’all, or Hi/Hey everyone.

      1. one whose name was writ in water

        I haven’t worked with any non-traditional genders since we stopped working in Second Life. There are Trans and other people at my company, but I know almost all of them, and I don’t work with any of them. *shrug* if that changes, I’m sure they’ll let me know.

        1. Blue_eyes

          But the thing is that you don’t always know who you’re addressing and how they identify. Using “Ladies and gentlemen” still promotes a gender binary. Giving up terms like “ladies and gentlemen” and “girls and boys” is one small way that we can deemphasize gender in contexts where it is irrelevant. I like your other greetings though!

          1. jpnadia

            I use “ladies and gentlemen and persons of all genders” when I’m at home and being over the top.

            My job is not one that would appreciate that, so I use “all” and “team”, or just a list of everyone on the email (“Anne, Boris, Claudia, and Davis:”).

          2. one whose name was writ in water

            Actually, 99.99% of the time, I do know who I am addressing.

            And I like having multiple genders, in both language and in real life, and I’m opposed to measures that seek to homogenize things into a boring monochrome unisex “one size fits all”. Instead, I want all people to be free to express their gender identity to whatever extent they are comfortable.

            Having said that, I do not feel any obligation to kowtow to the unstated, unknown preferences of people who secretly identify with some given gender. Deep down inside, I believe that I am the First Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe. Yet until I decide to make this common knowledge, I do not bridle when people do not refer to me as “My Lord”.

            *shrug* nobody has to agree with me on this.

            It’s odd, because I’m this kinda scary-looking old straight married white guy, but it’s fairly well-known within my company that I’m a big proponent of LGBT rights.

            1. Calla

              Honestly I’m not sure you can proclaim yourself a “big proponent of LGBT rights” if you think being gender neutral is “kowtowing” to people who are doing the equivalent of believing they’re emperor of the universe.

              1. one whose name was writ in water

                All I’m saying is that I’m not going to go to the trouble of modifying my speech or writing for the sake of people who aren’t even detectable in my audience. And the truth is, I don’t like reducing things to gender neutral form.

                > I’m not sure you can proclaim yourself a “big proponent of LGBT rights”

                This is absolutely true, as you have no idea of the things I’ve done to support that cause. Although I’ll assure you they were much more substantial than writing things in gender neutral form.

                1. Calla

                  This is basically the same as people who refuse to say “Happy Holidays.” Why is changing one phrase such a terrible thing that must be resisted?

                  Also, IF you want to consider yourself a “big proponent of LGBT rights,” it’s not up to you to decide what does and doesn’t matter.

        2. Calla

          If you truly desire to be inclusive and sensitive to everyone, I don’t think you can count on KNOWING how every single person identifies. Unless you work at an lgbtq-specific organization, maybe, but I’d bet even then some people are going to be private about it, for whatever reason (i.e. maybe they’re working through it currently so haven’t made any announcements).

    3. snuck

      I use the generic (but less fun!) Hi folks… it gets the job done in a non-gender way … If it’s three or less I’ll use first names, if it’s a team I might say “Folks in Team Lending” or play it up a little if it’s good news sort of stuff “The wonderful stars in Team Lending” or “A shout out – you lot rock! Look what we got…” if it’s a forward on of thanks or similar.

      1. JB

        I like Hi, folks, but I have met people who don’t. But the people who used the word “folks” when I was growing up were all people I liked, so to me it has a friendly sound to it.

        1. Snork Maiden

          Only politicians use it here, so it sounds forced and overly “cheery” to me. It’s funny how a little thing has such a big regional difference!

      1. Colette

        I find your reaction interesting – because if I got an email that started “hi party people” my hand would be hovering over the delete key before I read anything else.

        1. Blue_eyes

          It’s definitely not appropriate for all situations, or all offices, but I could see using this greeting on occasion. Like when sending an email about an office party.

        2. AnonAnalyst

          I’ve been known to use “Hey Party People!” on occasion, but I can’t remember ever using at work…It certainly wouldn’t fly where I work now! You have to really know your audience for that one.

        3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.


          I would be using it ironically, like, during a email conversation where things were blowing up, bodies everywhere, with people who get my sense of humor.

          So, as a lightener when it is clear nobody is partying.

          1. fposte

            I think a lot of the responses to salutation text are really responses to the person behind it or the workplace culture overall.

            1. C Average

              Exactly this.

              When I’m dealing with people I like who are pleasant to deal with, I couldn’t possibly even tell you how they start or end their emails, or if they include salutations at all.

              When I’m dealing with people who are challenging, every idiosyncrasy grates. I can immediately think of two people I work with who never use salutations and, since my back is already up when I even see their name in my inbox, the lack of salutation feels noticeably peremptory. I can also immediately think of a couple of particularly smarmy people who sign off with “Best,” and thanks to them, that otherwise innocuous sign-off reads as the kiss-off of death to me.

              For this reason, unless I’m rock-solid in the relationship with the recipient, everyone gets a “Hi Wakeen” or “Hello all.”

              [Slight digression: I am admittedly a pedant, and it took me a LONG time to come to terms with “Hi Wakeen.” It’s been deeply ingrained in me that when you use someone’s name, it should be set off with a comma. The greeting really should be “Hi, Wakeen.” But that presents difficulties because then there’s the clunkiness of sticking another comma AFTER Wakeen, or using an exclamation mark ( . . . no) or using a period (which makes no sense because “Hi, Wakeen” isn’t a complete sentence. I kind of wish “Dear Wakeen” didn’t have such a whiff of formality, because it presents none of these issues. I think the widely-accepted “Hi Wakeen” greeting has had a trickle-down effect on comma usage to set off a proper name; I regularly see sentences like “Can you get me the TPS numbers by EOD Wakeen?” And, because the red pen in my head has no kill switch, I am filled with sadness.]

              1. Persephone Mulberry

                I personally go with “Hi, Wakeen – ” which is still grammatically eh, but at least it lets me put the comma in the right spot. I think of it as the less formal alternative to the colon.

                1. Persephone Mulberry

                  Semi-unrelated, here’s another punctuation standard that I wish would go the way of the double-space-after-the-period due to 21st century obsolescence: putting punctuation inside the end quote. Took me three tries to realize you were not, in fact, starting your emails off with

                  Hi Wakeen.

              2. Lore

                I am 100 percent in agreement with not just that point, but with the entire line of thought that led to it.

              3. Kas

                I always write “Hi, Wakeen” and then a new line for the rest of the text :)

                (I also take great care to compose relevant subject lines, always check the spelling of my recipients’ names, and think carefully before cc-ing or bcc-ing anyone else, because I am an email paragon ;) )

        4. esra

          It depends on the team. I worked at a place where “Howdy Team Awesome,” was acceptable and used by many.

      2. Hlyssande

        Let me hear some noise, DC’s in the house jump jump rejoice! (whoomp there it is)

        Apparently I am full of nostalgia this morning.

        On topic, though – I always try to come up with some sort of salutation. It’s often just ‘Hello’ or ‘All’ but I wouldn’t ever send the first email without something. It comes across as abrupt and rude.

        1. hildi

          “Let me hear some noise, DC’s in the house jump jump rejoice! (whoomp there it is)”

          That is EXACTLY what went through my head when I read Party People. Cracking up. I love being a child of the 90s.

    4. AdAgencyChick

      Me too. Depending on the group I’m addressing, I am also a user of “Hey party people” and “Hey superfriends”. A large group or a group that includes someone I think I need to be more formal with gets “All”.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.


        Keep them coming.

        I do throw in “wonder twin powers, activate!” when appropriate, if that’s something you think you can use in return.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I love it when I say, “Wonder Twin powers, activate!” and someone replies with “Shape of—[ice thing]!” It means we’ll get along just fine. :)

    5. Lulu

      I mix it up quite a bit myself. I’m not hugely upset by most greetings – except the one person who sent an email to myself and another coworker and started it with “Hi girls”. I did spend a few minutes stewing over whether I should say something on that one.

    6. hildi

      I LOVE “Party People” that cracks me up!!! And like everyone said above: the success of this is predicated on knowing the audience, relationship, and in the right context.

      I think it would be fantastic to have a coworker or supervisors mix up the greeting in a funny way on a regular basis. Like the Dad that draws that awesome Sharpie art on his kid’s sandwich bags. Then again I’m a HUGE fan of surprises, so that works for me.

      1. cuppa

        I had a situation last week (culmination of a very large, very successful project), where party people would have been perfect. Oh, to go back in time….

    7. potato battery

      I like to use “Intrepid Colleagues”. But I work in a pretty informal environment…

    8. Nonny temporarily

      Oh man, in the vein of fun salutations–
      A coworker of mine once started an email
      “Hi team,

      (I tried to think of a an all female super group that would encompass your awesomeness but they would all get me reported to HR: Dixie Chicks, Spice Girls, Josie and the Pussycats…)

      We responded with very serious research and decided on The Supremes. (For context, we’re a three women department and he works closely with us but in another department.)

      So “Supremes” gets occasionally used, and it’s always fun.

    9. Emmy

      I don’t mine “Greetings” in email form but for some reason if someone says it in conversation I feel like it sounds like they’re an alien visitor to our world. “Greetings, humans!” And it’s weirdly infectious: once someone greets you with “greetings” you have to respond with “greetings.” One time I was listening to this morning talk show on the radio and a caller used “Greetings,” leading to EVERY SINGLE CALLER after, and all the hosts, saying “Greetings!” It was like they were all new to the planet.

  6. Ann Furthermore

    #2: I use “Hi all,” when sending to a small group of my co-workers. For larger groups, or group emails including people I’m not as friendly with, or with people higher up in the food chain, I go with, “Hi everyone.”

    #3: If you don’t think the job at Company A is right for you, don’t accept it just because your friend helped you out. I once accepted a job that I got through a friend of a friend that I’d met socially a few times, and even during the interview I had a feeling that it would not be a good fit. Sure enough, I wasn’t. I ended up being let go about 6 months later. Then I felt terrible that I’d made that acquaintance look bad. In retrospect it would have been much better if I’d just thanked her (and the company) for their time and the opportunity to interview and just kept looking. But it was early in my career, and the job I was leaving was on the verge of being eliminated, due to the company relocating to another state. So I was too hasty.

    Like Alison said, thank your friend, and Company A for their time, and take the job with Company B. It will work out much better for everyone that way.

  7. Leah

    OP#1 I’ve been on the other side of someone who felt that they were doing “all” the work and “carrying” everyone. In undergrad, classmates and I only found this out later from a mutual friend whom she complained to well after a semester-long group project. In our experience, she didn’t listen to anyone’s input and would “do all the work” on things before we’d met to discuss them. In short, she was a control freak and, sadly, she her work was only so-so and so we’d have to redo a lot of it from scratch.

    I am not saying that you are like this person, but could there be some element of this going on? Our program was relatively small and she gained a reputation for being smart, driven, and also a nightmare to work with.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      In the OP’s case, it sounds like she’s demonstrating subject matter knowledge and then other people are coming to her to try to use her knowledge, rather than doing the work of getting it for themselves (which she points out they could do).

    2. Artemesia

      This made me laugh. I once taught a graduate class of working professionals where we met weekends and there was a substantial team project that had deliverables each weekend. One hyper team member arrived in class having developed a logo for her team (before teams even formed) and a team name and it went downhill from there. She stayed up all night the night before the final presentation putting together and copying a 60 page handout of their report — totally over the top. The teams had developed instruments for evaluation the previous weekend and were given faux data for their instruments on Friday evening and would work together to analyze and prepare a presentation Sat morning for Sat afternoon. She basically pre-empted everything — and because she never ever listened, it wasn’t any good. The whole point was to create a presentation keyed to a particular type of stakeholder and the team hadn’t even received their stakeholder until the sat morning after she spent all Friday night doing ‘all the work’. Their report was glossy and pretty — but it was totally misdirected.

      So yes. Sometimes a high initiative leader has their work misused. Free riders are a big problem in the classroom and something faculty should deal with. But there are also pre-empters who suck all the air out of a team and don’t understand their negative impact on the larger enterprise. It is important to be a good listener as well as a good producer.

      In the OP’s situation, she might want to stop sharing quite so much about what she has discovered if she feels people are relying on her too heavily. But she also needs to be sure that she is not crowding out other participants. (I know — sometimes people slack off and others need to pick that up — but the first efforts should be to organize work not preempt everyone else’s role.)

        1. Artemesia

          Yes — when I watched Paris Geller I recognized her immediately. I had a talk with the student about this issue, but it was pretty baked in. The rest of her team just sort of back away in confusion and let it happen.

        2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

          As I am in the middle of a Gilmore Girls rewatch, I’m giving this one all the thumbs up.

    3. OP 1

      This is very true, and hits home a bit as well. I am a first born, Type A, organized person and naturally take the lead. With the museum tours for instance I organized another 20 person tour via the Masters Facebook Page and everyone was commenting ‘thanks! great organizational skills, OP!’ etc.

      There is an example in this thread of the woman who’d done everything before the assignment even started and I’m not *that* bad but if everyone is sitting around awkwardly not saying a thing I am the one to take charge and say, “Okay, we have to do ABC, why don’t we divide it up this way?”.

      You’re right, being more aware of it and letting others take charge is important too.

      1. Kathryn

        One if the best teachers/mentors I’ve had gave me the advice that I learn how to follow as well as how to lead.

        It weirded out the people I was grouped with while I was practicing just following (because of course Kathryn was just going to be in charge and get things rolling) but leading and following are different skill sets and having them both is really, really useful. Being able to support a tentative or less skilled leader from a team role is as much of a nuanced skill as being a strong leader who can step in and fix things. And being able to switch out between the two easily can defuse tense situations with multiple people who only know how to lead.

        It’s made me valuable professionally because my management knows that I can not only get things done when left to my own devices with my team, but that when they absolutely need solid back up, they can rely on me to follow their lead and everything will be smooth.

      2. fposte

        One thing I’ve learned is a greater tolerance for the awkward silence/moment can be really helpful. Interesting things happen when I wait it out a little.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          That’s what I do when assigned a team project. I’ll have in mind a potential course of action or two, and I’ll throw out a comment or question to start the conversation, but then I hold back a little to see how other people see their roles or envision the project going. Then I adjust my conceptions accordingly and continue to contribute suggestions and leave breathing room for others’ responses until it seems that everyone is satisfied with the resulting plan. I don’t consider myself a leader overtly, but I do step in and guide decisions in a more behind-the-scenes or peer-to-peer way.

        2. JB

          That is really excellent advice for these situations. Sometimes people are either too shy to speak up or to passive to do any of the leading, but they’ll step up to fill the silence. And it’s good practice for those of us who tend to steamroll over others. Since I learned to step back and not do that, my life has been so much easier.

          AND it works if you are ever quizzing someone about something, like in a deposition, or if you are trying to find out if your child did something they weren’t supposed to.

      3. themmases

        I think grad school can really get in your head– especially when this is your personality. It can be really hard not to feel competitive with your classmates and bounce between feeling threatened and putting them down in your head to protect yourself. We’re all working hard, hoping this huge investment of time and money will pay off dramatically when it’s over. I think there’s some room for you to try to relate more to your classmates.

        First, while I don’t know your classmates and can’t know what impression they make in person, I believe smart, driven people try to seek out advice and connection wherever they see something interesting. Some people can be very effective by talking to everyone and finding out what they know, and that’s not a wrong way to do things. It’s normal in a challenging program for people to make connections by asking for help, and sometimes people do this just to break the ice and be friendly. If you feel overwhelmed by being a resource for the whole class, try setting up a study group with the people you do gravitate towards. People tend to ask their own group for help first, then move outwards. If you’re having trouble identifying anyone you would want to group up with, the problem might be with your attitude or choice of program.

        Identifying your niche will help a lot too. It turns out no one in my cohort wants the specific job I want after graduation, which helps me stop feeling competitive with them. It also just clarifies how I want to spend my time rather than trying to be first and best at everything. Making connections with others in your field is a big benefit of grad school– my current boss still works and is friends with people she met when she was in my program. Don’t miss out on the career benefits and stress relief by thinking you’re in competition with everyone, because you may not be.

      4. Anonsie

        And in the context of your letter specifically, I don’t feel like the example you give is people trying to mooch off your hard work. It’s not like the information you have is proprietary and is going to compromise your position somehow if it gets out… It’s just tour types. Mooching would be if they repeatedly asked for all the information you got on your special tour and then added it to their own project without actually going, or ripped off the ideas you got while you were there.

        I don’t think you’re way out of line here or anything, but I think they way you are framing your own work vs others and yourself vs others is a little misguided. Sometimes this attitude does make sense (I’m in academic research, I get it) but for your average work, you gain nothing by being the sole owner of some practical information. Like C Average said below, knowledge isn’t a zero sum resource. You don’t lose something by other people having the same information in the overwhelming majority of cases.

        Along those lines, I believe you’re framing your gumption here a little bit too competitively as well. Not every instance of effort on your part is a great show of initiative that deserves reward, nor is a classmate taking a different tack being lazy and therefore undeserving of courtesy– or deserving of penalty. Asking others who have already gone through a process how they did it is a standard you’re going to encounter a lot outside of your grad program as well, and interpreting that as others trying to ride your coattails is not going to get you in a good spot with your colleagues. If I can’t get something to work in Excel and I dig through a few examples and forums without solving it, I’m going to ask someone else who may have done the same thing before to help me fix it rather than waste a bunch of time “taking charge.” I don’t get rewarded for spending my morning trying to do teach myself something with pivot tables that someone I work with has already figured out. Taking initiative doesn’t mean you can’t ask for or provide knowledge for others.

    4. AdAgencyChick

      Not saying that this is the OP, but yeah, this was me in school. I didn’t trust anyone else not to wait right up until the project was due, so I “carried everyone” instead.

      It was only much later in life that I understood why I drove people crazy.

      1. Jennifer

        Pretty much every “team project” I ever had in school had everyone else but me flake and bail on the work. I think you’re reasonable to NOT trust other students to help and support you even if it’s their grade.

    5. jag

      I don’t think the OP should feel annoyed at other people coming to her for special/high-level/subject matter knowledge.

      But coming to her for simple stuff – stuff they could look up themselves – yes. That’s lazy on their part.

      1. AndersonDarling

        Yes, this annoys me all the time. Someone will come and ask me a question and all I do is open up Google and type in their question. Boom. There is the answer.
        There are many times when I welcome someone asking me a question and I gladly give step by step instructions. But for the basic things, the stranger in the Excel Youtube will actually explain it better than me.

        1. LQ

          I used to do this, now I ask them if they’ve googled it (unless I know the answer and it is a complex one). It means people come to me less often and there is a little bit of me that is like, aww I’m not everyone’s go to anymore, but most of me is like LOOK AT ALL THIS FREE TIME! I will roll around it in!

          It is a skill to be able to google, or look at documentation, so I do put time into teaching people that skill. But it is highly recommended. Just ask them if they’ve googled it.

          1. jag

            Of I say “Check CRM” or “It’s in the folder on the drive” or “Check Sharepoint” or whatever, referring to appropriate institutional info sources.

            LMGTFY I use in some online fora, but not at work.

            1. Sunny

              Yes, I am a Librarian and want to use LMGTFY so often, but you know, then I would be out of a job.

              OP I wouldn’t look at it as people wanting to discuss a subject they may be interested in, not that they want to “mooch.” It seems as though you think that you are in competition with the rest of the class, which isn’t always true. It also seems like you need some validation and there is a little bit of “bragplaining” happening here.

              And if you are having trouble with people asking you, you can just say “I can help you find the information for the tour if you would like to go, but I can’t take it for you!”

        2. mutt

          You guys need to google ‘LMGTFY’.

          When I committed the crime of asking something I could google myself, he sent me a lmgtfy link. Hysterical, but also made the point pretty clearly.

        3. Jennifer

          Hah. I have to be everyone’s Googlebot at work. It would be “rude” of me to tell them to look it up themselves.

      2. Lee

        At the same time, the OP for some reason told the lecturer that she had arranged this behind-the-scenes tour, and of course the lecturer told the class. I just kind of had to roll my eyes at how exasperated the OP came off — OP wants it known how creative and proactive she is but please for the love of God don’t bug OP because she’s creative and proactive.

          1. Anna

            Yeah, but that still doesn’t make much difference in that specific issue. Great that the OP figured it out and booked the tour, but since she had to loop in the lecturer, the OP couldn’t really tell the lecturer to keep it secret.

        1. OP 1

          Hi Lee, you’re right it can come across that way! Sorry about that. As I have said below I had to tell her as she had to call the museum to confirm our trip otherwise they wouldn’t let me book it!

    6. OriginalEmma

      I want everyone I worked with on group projects to be my pall bearers, so they can let me down one last time.

    7. Rat Racer

      Personally, I am wired to want to help people, and it gives me a lot of joy when people can use information that I have gathered. This is why the name “Rat Racer” works for me — it’s not a winning strategy if you’re in a race to the top (works fine for running in my little maze).

      That said, there is a fine line between helping people because you have become a subject matter expert, and Googling something for someone who is too lazy to type a few words into a search engine. THAT kind of attitude “I am helpless! help help help!” drives me nuts.

    8. Successs

      One of my favorite mantras is: “Measure your own success by how successful you help others to become.” Your own worth and value to the world will actually be greater if you help other people grow, progress, and succeed than if you hoard the accomplishments for yourself. I try to remember this whenever I am tempted to keep valuable information to myself. Also, everyone that you help along the way will be much more likely to help YOU when the time comes.

    9. Allison

      Ooof, I definitely worked with people like that in high school! I wanted to do work, really I did, but my groupmates would usually grab up most of the work, and when I’d volunteer to do this or that, it was always “no, I’ll do that” or “no, we’re not gonna do that.” My ideas were usually rejected as well, brushed off as being stupid. I did as much work as they’d let me, but at some point they’d usually call me out for being lazy and barely doing anything while they did all the work.

    10. Ed

      I think OP’s attitude is common among top performers. I go out of my way to share my knowledge and try not to get mad when I feel like a slacker co-worker is riding my coat tails. I know it can be a headache for managers to need to constantly stroke the ego of top performers. IMHO, that attitude actually makes you less of a top performer. Having said that, a key component that allows me to be this way is my manager gives great feedback so I know she recognizes my extra effort.

      The way I look at it, a big part of my job is to ensure the success of my company and that goal is accomplished by improving my co-workers. Purposely withholding info from my co-workers that I know would improve the overall business is technically sabotaging my company for my own personal gain. I work with people now (in IT) that hoard knowledge and it’s really annoying. If you quit your job (or get hit by a bus, etc.) and the place falls apart, then you weren’t very good at your job. A good employee can take a vacation without their department erupting into chaos.

      I’ll also echo what others have said that a control freak is often mistaken for a top performer.

      1. Jules

        I meet so many who are scared to share tribal knowledge in case they are made redundant. When asked, they tell me that I don’t understand because have never been laid off. I’d like to think that when I have done all I can for the org and outgrown the role, I would find another role and move on. When I push for documentation they all look at me like I am nuts.

  8. Artemesia

    I think #3’s issue is much more common for women then men. NEVER make a career decision because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or you feel you owe someone; always make the best decision for your personal goals and development. You don’t owe an employer loyalty if leaving would help your career (you owe them professionalism, notice etc but not staying around because they ‘need you.’) You don’t owe a friend or relative giving up a better job because they helped with the contact. An employer fully understands that very qualified candidates may have other options; again as long as you behave very professionally no one sensible will think lesser of you for it.

    Same is true with boyfriends — I have counseled more than one woman that the only reason she needs to break up is ‘she wants to.’ Never make major life decisions out of loyalty except to people you actually OWE loyalty to like the needs of your spouse or child.

  9. Not a "sir"

    #2: Just “Hi,” or “Hello,” works.

    I keep getting emails at work that start with “Dear sirs.” WTF?

    1. TheLazyB

      I saw an email forwarded to my boss that started ‘Gentlemen,’.

      I couldn’t see the list so no idea if it went to any women. Possibly not. But it still really wound me up.

      1. BananaPants

        I’m often on the address list of emails that start, “Gentlemen” – I’m the only woman in my group and one of only a few in my organization. It’s always from non-native English speakers so I cut a lot more slack than I would if it was from a colleague in the US. Usually once the sender realizes I’m female, they stop using that salutaion.
        There was one email recently which was addressed to “Gentlemen” that I was included on, and I think I was particularly sensitive because I created the document that was being sent, but it was going to an extremely conservative Middle Eastern country where women do not play a role in business or public life. My name was stripped out of the document and any follow-up questions will have to be answered through a male executive even though I’m the subject matter expert.

        1. Ann without an e

          I’m one of few women here too, also engineer, I’m ME. I get called Gentlemen and Mr. Smith all the time. I sign my work ASmith…………none of that bothers me. Getting my name removed from my work, because I’m a woman, I have nothing safe for work to say about that. How are you not losing your mind over that?

          For what its worth, I’m so sorry that was done to you.

        2. Coco

          As an ESL teacher and a feminist, it would strike me as quite inappropriate even if a non-native speaker said it. I wouldn’t cut them much more slack just because of that. Proper greetings are one of the first things you ever learn in any English class, so if they’re proficient enough to be sending business emails, they almost certainly should know better. Like you mention, this just sounds like more of a cultural blind spot on his part.

          1. potato battery

            BananaPants said that they stop once they realize she’s female, though – I interpreted this as the sender being unfamiliar with gender conventions for names in English, rather than not knowing how to greet properly.

            1. Coco

              Ah, I see — language would make a difference if the person didn’t recognize a conventionally gendered name.

              I interpreted it as the person assuming they are speaking to all men (which would be a cultural thing) because BananaPants said her name wasn’t included on an email. Even if her name was included, it still sounds like the person assumed the audience was all-male.

          2. BananaPants

            I think a lot of it is being unfamiliar with gender conventions for names in English. It almost always happens with colleagues in China who haven’t worked with me before. Once we’ve spoken on the phone or in a teleconference and they realize I’m a woman, the group address to “Gentlemen” stops and they switch to “Dear team” or “Hello to all” or the like. It’s unfortunate that there’s an assumption that a group of engineers will be all-male.

            Frankly, unless a Chinese colleague has chosen an English nickname or we’ve spoken on the phone before, I’m also usually in the position of not knowing if the intended recipient is male or female, or which is their first and last name (it’s inconsistent in our internal directory). Usually I use the recipient’s full name and wait to see how they sign the response, then use that to properly-address the followup. I’ve had long email conversations with colleagues in Asia and had no idea whether they were male or female for the longest time – I just don’t make the assumption to begin with!

      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        Heck, I’m male and receiving something addressed “sirs” or “gentlemen” makes me feel like I’m reading someone else’s mail.

        I wish “dudes” was more gender-neutral. It can and is used that way, usually among friends, but like the previous two forms of address, it’s very possible it will be seen as inappropriate by some.

      3. Katie the Fed

        I use “gentlemen” if I’m emailing a group of men. It’s proper in a military environment where you would address an officer as “Sir”

      4. DEJ

        I got a ‘gentlemen’ email recently – after which the sender realized that he had basically called me a man and sent a quick follow up apology. He was very sincere about it. I work in a male dominated field and joked back to him that being addressed as a man was part of the course for this profession.

    2. Francesca

      I’m a festival organiser and have a rule that if anyone emails our generic account promoting their show/service/artist and the email starts with “Dear Sirs,” I won’t book them.

    3. Francesca

      I’m a festival organiser. I have a rule that if someone emails our departmental email address promoting their show/artist/service and they start the email “Dear sirs,” I won’t book them.

    4. Clara

      Yep. I manage recruiting for my company and when I see a cover letter that starts with “Dear Sirs”, it almost always goes straight to the “no” pile.

    5. Katie the Fed

      I had a boss lecture me once about using “Dear Sirs” (it was an email addressed to three men)

      His argument was that “sir” is short for the French “monsieur” so pluralizing the abbreviation made me look dumb.

      I’ve never used it again.

  10. Mike C.

    OP1: You may wish to look towards the Roman Patronage system for guidance. By being someone who helps others, you’ll find it easy to find help from the same when you are stuck in a bind. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass sometimes when people are bugging you about this or that and sometimes you need to set boundaries, but you also need to stop treating this as one big competition – no person is an island.

    Where I work, there are tens of thousands of people of all ages and education levels, all working together to build jumbo jet airplanes. My first week there I was paired off with an older mechanic to document part of an installation with some digital photos. As we started locating the parts on the aircraft, he became a little embarrassed because he didn’t know how to use a digital camera. I confided in him that I didn’t know my ass from aft on an airplane and that if he could help me find what I was looking for, I’d be more than happy to worry about the pictures. He had decades of experience, and serial number was all he needed to take me where I needed to be.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been saved by one of those folks, just because I was able to help them with some computer thing or research data or a quick slide presentation.

    Yes, work hard and do your best and say no when you have to, but don’t forget that no one builds a plane all by themselves, and no one is done until the plane is delivered.

    1. OP 1

      That’s really true – I’m positive other students will have knowledge I don’t have and will need to help me at some point! Thanks :)

      1. louise

        I’ve been in your shoes with group work, so I understand! But, it’s so different in the work world than in the school world. I was a traditional college student (age-wise) but also had a professional job. The sales manager (who also mentored me) loved some documents and presentations I put together and asked if I would share the files with his department. I said no — I’d worked hard on those and they could too if it was that important to them! It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized I was thoroughly in school-mode when I gave that answer and that collaboration is expected in the work world. To his credit, he didn’t hold it against me, but I still cringe when I think of it. In the work world, it’s an honor to be recognized for outstanding work and have others want to use it–it’s all about furthering the company and not oneself.

      2. Mike C.

        No problem, and best of luck. I was also thinking that since you seem to be in the driver’s seat so to speak with a lot of these projects, you have a lot of leeway/political capital/etc in delegating group work to others. Saying things like, “Of course I can help here, but in the meantime could I get some help over there?” will be a huge improvement for everyone involved for several reasons.

        1. You won’t find yourself doing absolutely everything.
        2. Taking the initiative means that you can do the parts of whatever you’re working on that you like/prefer/etc and can delegate the stuff you don’t like to others.*
        3. You diplomatically enforce a culture where everyone helps (which I think was at the heart of what you were having issues with).
        4. The others working with you won’t feel like freeloaders, have a greater personal investment in the end product, better results for all involved.

        *Quick story from college about this: There was a course I was taking from a new professor that assigned an insane amount of weekly reading, and suffice it to say, much of this reading was skimmed at best. At the end of the semester, it was announced that there would be a final consisting of several essays based on the readings, with several pages of notes allowed.

        So what I did was gathered a bunch of students together and said the following – “Hey, I’m gathering a bunch of folks together to split up the readings and summarize/bullet point what was written. I’ll then put the whole thing together and send it out to everyone who helped out. The more people we get, the smaller the assigned reading will be and the more detailed the notes. Want to join?” It was a huge success (I think I had about a third of this smallish class), the notes were great and everyone had a lot less studying to do. Since I organized it, I got to give myself the reading I was most comfortable with.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.


      You saved me a lot of writing and said it 10x better than I would have.

    3. S


      In the work world, Alison stated, “In the workplace, shortcuts and finding ways to minimize people’s learning curve and set them up for success are good things”

      Also see question #4 – there will be a time when your boss will ask to teach something on something you learned on your own time.

    4. J.B.

      Also, school and work are totally different. At school the professors don’t really manage projects. At work your efforts are much more obvious. You do need to make sure your supervisor is aware of what you’ve been doing, however. And I completely agree that being ready to help anyone makes the good ones like you and help you right back.

      1. Sunflower

        So true. If this was a work assignment and your boss knew you had found something that was going to be a huge benefit or increase efficiency, he’d share it with everyone. You’d be recognized by the boss as the person who found it but realize when you have great ideas at work, they can’t stay under wraps between just you and boss. Other people are going to benefit from them. And like Mike C said it’s a big circle and everyone helps everyone.

    5. Dynamic Beige

      “he became a little embarrassed because he didn’t know how to use a digital camera. I confided in him that I didn’t know my ass from aft on an airplane”

      This is so important. I would rather someone just admit they don’t know something then pretend they do and bluster their way through it. It’s impossible to be an expert in all things and there’s no shame in admitting you don’t know something. You will gain more goodwill (and assistance) by admitting it than covering it up.

      Although I must confess I find it a little odd that current students don’t know how to or think to Google a place that they are expected to go. I mean if someone said “We’re going to X for dinner” and you’d never been, isn’t it kind of standard that you look the place up on the internet, if only to find out where it’s located?

  11. Kimmy Gibbler

    #2: I just say “Hello.” Or “Hi Everyone.” Or, just begin without a greeting and get to the point. One of my BIGGEST pet peeves at work is when someone addresses an email “Hello Ladies…” I get this not infrequently, and it’s always authored by another woman. And it drives. me. nuts. I don’t need to be specifically identified as a “lady” at my job! I guarantee you no men are addressing emails to groups of other men by starting with “Hello Gentlemen…” (or, certainly not in my field).

      1. Ann without an e

        I had no idea this bothered other women, I will refrain from addressing the purchasing department as such. Thank you for making me aware of this.

        I get called gentlemen and Mr. all the time by people that have not met me or seen my first name, I sign documents ASmith, not that it bothers me. I’ve just never been in a large group of women where I could be addressed ladies…..well once at a SWE event.

        “Ladies and…..(deep breath) ladies” begins speech about material removal rate and its effect on the crystalline lattice structure of machined parts and the introduction of slip planes.

    1. one whose name was writ in water

      I guarantee you no men are addressing emails to groups of other men by starting with “Hello Gentlemen…” (or, certainly not in my field).

      I don’t know your field, but I can personally attest to the fact that “Hello Gentlemen,” was used as recently as the 18th of February 2015 in the field of Computer Science.

    2. TheLazyB

      Haha, I *just* posted up thread about seeing this in my boss’s email! It’s a thing. But it certainly feels different.

      1. Kai

        We have a male coworker who sends out emails that begin “Hey Ladies.” And yes–I don’t like it coming from men or women, but it’s worse coming from a man!

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            I always hear it as, lay-deez, with two equally-accented syllables. I don’t remember where I got it from, but it was some TV show with a skeevy little nerd cooking up a plan to scam on the “lay-deez” at the bar that night.

          2. Hlyssande

            I think ‘Hello, ladies’ a la Old Spice Guy. And from him I’m okay with that.

            From anybody else, not so much.

            1. JB

              +1 between you and OriginalEmma, I’m going to be randomly laughing all day when this suddenly pops into my head. I just hope it doesn’t happen in a meeting.

        1. Blue_eyes

          Eww. All I can imagine is a creepy guy sliding over to some women at a bar and opening with “heeeyyy ladies.” At least coming from another woman it’s an in-group thing. Either way, very irksome.

        2. Artemesia

          In Europe a fair number of people, particularly those with weak tourist English who are trying to sell something will call you ‘Lady’ — it always feels like ‘hey lady’ from Jerry Lewis when they do it. It is their equivalent of Madam which would be a polite form of address in French but not in English. They would be better off using Madam but they are trying to speak our language.

        3. Emily, admin extraordinaire

          “Okay, Lady, I love you, bye-bye!”

          That’s what I think of when someone uses “lady.”

    3. Hey Lady


      I had a boss, that I was friendly with and enjoyed, who always addressed emails “Hey Lady.” This was especially true when she needed something. It became a running joke with my fellow female colleague that also got the same treatment. The equivalent never happened with our male colleague. It was infuriating.

      1. JB

        I have a friend who will address me as “hey lady,” and it doesn’t bother me at all. This is one of those things were context is everything.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        Hey lady, you, lady, cursin’ at your life…

        Poor dear. I guess she’s never been to me… er… herself.

      3. Artemesia

        In Europe a fair number of people, particularly those with weak tourist English who are trying to sell something will call you ‘Lady’ — it always feels like ‘hey lady’ from Jerry Lewis when they do it. It is their equivalent of Madam which would be a polite form of address in French but not in English. They would be better off using Madam but they are trying to speak our language.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Worse: my boss addresses emails to the sales staff (all female) with “Girls” and it makes me stabby. He’s also one of the men who addresses group emails to “Gentlemen” when he has no idea if there’s a woman tossed in there too. It’s infuriating.

    5. SherryD

      Not the hill I want to die on, but, yeah, “hey ladies” or “hey girls” INCENSES me. Yes, everyone receiving the email is a woman, this is work, not a stitch ‘n’ bitch session.

    6. Case of the Mondays

      Actually in my field (legal) it is very common for emails from men and women to all men to be addressed “gentlemen.” I also don’t see anything wrong with it when the recipients are all male.

    7. Mints

      I think Alison said this on another thread and it really stuck with me: If you were very clearly the subordinate emailing a group of female managers, “ladies” would seem really off. That indicates that there’s a level of condescension included in the word. And I justifies my personal annoyance when I see it

      1. Alternative

        This is exactly it. It’s a term that lacks a level of respect. It’s how the Mad Men execs referred to their secretaries in the 60’s.

  12. one whose name was writ in water

    1: I agree with everything Alison said … but of course I want to add my own spin onto it. You may think it’s obvious, but really, you have an ability that many other people don’t have. What you need to do is understand that it is a gift, and learn how to live with it, work it, and control it. Some of this stuff may seem trivial, but perhaps putting it down on the page will help:

    – When you do something that benefits other people, can you make them aware of what you did, and how it was good for them?[1]

    – Can you figure out ways to prevent your work from benefiting others?[2]

    – If people look to you for making things happen – can you learn to delegate work to them? To coordinate their efforts with yours to do something that would otherwise be impossible with only a single person?

    I don’t have specific answers for you – these are things you need to learn on your own, that will depend on your own unique personality and style. But in short, I’m urging you to take what you’ve got and turn it into Leadership. Because, my friend, if you have Leadership, the world is pretty much your own personal oyster.
    [1] In short: do they acknowledge that you did them a favor?
    [2] I know this sounds cold, but I’m thinking of, say, in school, where it may happen that you’ll start early and put major work into a project – and then other students will attempt to ‘borrow’ from your efforts.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I really love this point — that it’s a gift that not everyone shares. It’s a great way to look at it.

      I’ll admit that I’m also someone who at times finds myself thinking, “But it’s so frickin’ easy to do XYZ — just go do it and your problem will be solved.” It’s taken me a long time to learn that some things that come easily enough to me that they feel like common sense don’t feel that way to everyone — just as their talents don’t feel in any way easy to me.

      We’re not used to thinking of “ability to just dig in and get stuff done” as a talent in the way that, say, writing or music or athletic ability is, but I’ve come to believe that it is. I bet that seeing it that way would help the OP feel less frustrated.

      1. one whose name was writ in water

        +1000 agree. Knowledge has to be put into motion to be useful.

        Years ago someone came to me asking how a certain C function worked. I said “Hmm, I dunno” and I brought up the editor and wrote a short test program and compiled it and ran it and showed them the output and said “oh, it works like that!” They seemed a little freaked. Later it hit me: “why didn’t they do that themselves?” But the point of this story isn’t to showcase how freakin’ clever I am – believe me, my wife would be more than happy to tell you about the dumb stuff I do – but the person who asked me that question started writing little pieces of test code themselves when they had a question. I like to think this is evidence that this kind of thing can be learned.

        1. Ilf

          I like the example a lot. People learn. Some don’t, but many do. And many reciprocate when they can.
          I believe in unmeasured generosity when it comes to knowledge. Sometimes the gift will be squandered, or merely unappreciated, but when you have little to no data to predict such outcome, you should not hold back on sharing. All the measuring that goes into making sure that you’re even, that you don’t give more than you receive, takes way too much energy, and doesn’t produce anything positive. I think this blog is a good example of generosity, and that it benefits the giver too.

      2. OP 1

        That’s very true! It seems so obvious to me that we should google the museums and have a poke around their websites but perhaps other students went straight to their contact page to get their address and opening hours? It all seems so obvious to me but you’re right, perhaps it isn’t.

        1. Musereader

          But plenty of people will not even do that, they will just ask the question of their family and friends on facebook, twitter or other social media and won’t look for themselves because that is how they have got that kind of information before. I know I am the kind of person who will send a link in answer, but people will ask what’s on the link, they won’t look at it or if they do they won’t realise there is other information there and will go on to ask another question that I already gave them the answer for.

          Basically some people just want one answer to the question and anything else is too much.

          1. OP 1

            I am the complete opposite personality and just don’t understand people like that! I am the person who will always speak up, pepper the conversation with questions etc. I’ll never just sit back. I want to know everything, and if we have to go to a museum I’ll research it and research and will know almost everything before I go. But hey! That’s just me! Haha.

            1. Musereader

              Me too, people seem to think i am clever because i answer a lot of random questions, and know a lot of stuff, but basically it’s because i will do research (sometimes for nothing other than curiosity). If i see a documentary on a subject i will go online and find out more, read something in a book and find out how it works. The most frustrating is asking me off hand questions and i want to know the answer so i look it up and try to tell them and they will tell me they didn’t actually want to know, well, why did you ask the question? I’ve made it a habit to ask now, do you actually want to know?

            2. k

              Relax. I am a museum professional – so please relax and listen. Engagement is good, but don’t go overboard. I’ve been very turned off by this type of visitor, “if you already know everything why are you here”.

            3. Blue_eyes

              That’s totally me too. I was never afraid to speak up in class, always like to know where I’m going and what to expect. Have you even taken a Myers-Briggs test? It could help you to understand some aspects of your personality, and how they are different from the way other people operate. For instance, I have a really strong J type (I suspect you do as well), and understanding the difference between J and P helped me to understand how other people work in ways that are very different from me.

              1. fposte

                I’m also like that, but it’s interesting to see things from the other side–people like us need to be reined in so as not to monopolize the airspace in a class, and some of us don’t take as well to that as we ought to. So it’s good to combine the willingness to speak up with the willingness to wait and let others be heard–it’s not a race where the first person to the airspace gets it :-).

            4. AnonAcademic

              I am the same way. I’m finishing a research Ph.D. program so really, this is at the core of what makes me successful – I figure out 95% of things myself and rely on others for help for the other 5%.

              At least in my field, it becomes pretty obvious come job interview time which graduates of my program are independent and capable, versus which ones needed constant handholding from their advisors. You can probably guess who ends up more successful.

        2. Allison

          Not sure what your age is, but at 25 I seem to be in the “Google it” generation. If you want to know something, Google it. If you don’t know how to do something, Google it. Don’t know how to spell a word, Google it. Ask your friends if a) you can’t find the answer, or b) you want a more personal recommendation. We have plenty of devices of various shapes and sizes that can help us access information, why rely on other people to do the research for us? I’m all for people being social and connected, but there needs to be some degree of self reliance as well.

      3. CrazyCatLady

        Interesting – I definitely have never thought of “ability to just dig in and get stuff done” as a talent! (Which always makes me incredibly frustrated with people who don’t do it…) I do end up frustrated all the time because of that. I’ll have to change the way I think about it.

      4. Elizabeth West

        It’s taken me a long time to learn that some things that come easily enough to me that they feel like common sense don’t feel that way to everyone — just as their talents don’t feel in any way easy to me.

        I have to remind myself of this too. It should be on a t-shirt.

  13. Jen S 2.0

    OP 1: One thing that would help is to play your cards closer to your vest. In this case, you told the lecturer, who then announced it. You lost control of who had the information when you shared it with the person whose job it is to share information. If you don’t want people taking advantage of your efforts before you’re done reaping the benefits, don’t publicize your efforts UNTIL you’re done getting those benefits. Others aren’t obligated to keep your secrets, so don’t tell your secrets unless and until you’re ready for them to be public knowledge.

    1. OP 1

      Hi! I had to tell the lecturer as the museum required a teacher/lecturer to verify and confirming the booking of the tour before we could go on it – so there was no way around it. She said she was sure other’s would like to know it was available and then proceeded to call me out as the one who brought this information to her knowledge ie so now everyone thinks I’m the expert.

      But I absolutely agree re cards in general. I have a sister who is related to the museum world and she’s meeting with my group of friends to impart wisdom: this is priceless and I won’t be broadcasting it!!

        1. Hlyssande

          I know that feeling. I often have a hard time with not giving too much information out in work situations where I’m trying to tell someone something that they don’t have a full grasp on. The temptation to explain the whole background of something and why it is a thing, etc is very strong with me.

  14. C Average

    I work in knowledge management, and it’s the whole mission of my team to get information to people who can use it. Knowledge is not a zero-sum resource! If I know something you’d like to know and I share my knowledge, you’re smarter, but I’m not dumber! And by being someone who shares information and helps others, I gain influence and enhance my reputation as someone smart and helpful.

    Knowledge management has elements of community management, and it’s fascinating to observe the effect just one smart, generous, and non-turf-conscious individual can have on a whole community. Such people have huge influence and are revered by their peers. Are they getting taken advantage of? Maybe, sometimes, a little. Do they care? Nah. They’re too busy enjoying their knowledge and influence.

    You have the makings of a maven. That’s a fun kind of person to be. Embrace it. Don’t let petty concerns about what is and isn’t fair get in the way.

    1. OP 1

      Thank you – that’s very true and definitely something that I am cultivating in school. I need to change my mind set and as you say, enjoy it & embrace it!

    2. LPBB

      You work in Knowledge Management! That’s the field I want to move into, do you mind if I ask what kind of background you have?

      1. C Average

        I kind of got into this field sideways, which I think is pretty common.

        My degree is in English, and my background is in tech writing and editing (with retail gigs to pay the rent). I joined my current company eight years ago and did tech support in our social media channels for five years, becoming a product subject matter expert in the process. Just over three years ago, our knowledge base team created a new knowledge base author role specializing in the product line I’d been supporting. Because I had strong product knowledge and a strong writing skill set, it seemed like a natural fit.

        To tell the truth, it’s been a slog. I’ve learned a ton and am grateful for that, but there’s so much more to knowledge management than just being a good writer with a lot of knowledge! I think a background in, say, archival studies or library science would have been helpful from an information management standpoint. And I think a sys admin skill set would have helped, too, because knowledge management systems tend to be . . . well, I’m gonna go with the term one of our sys admins uses: colicky. Knowing how to diagnose and self-solve some of the everyday annoyances that crop up in a knowledge management environment is super helpful. Having a strong understanding of SEO, localization, and other web development concepts is critical, too. Having a broad network across your organization is probably more key than anything, though. Knowing who to ask for information, whose approval is needed when, who knows how to pull levers in such a way that things actually move . . . that’s the less tangible but by far most important part of our work. My tendency to be an internet extrovert has been extremely valuable in this job. Knowledge is useless if it’s not shared. And to make sure it’s shared, you have to know, like, respect, and understand your community and its needs.

        If you have specific questions, I’ll be keeping one eye on the open thread today and throughout the weekend. Knowledge management is super interesting. I love to talk about it.

        1. LPBB

          Thanks so much for your response! I’ll try to get my thoughts down and post something in the open thread.

        2. Mander

          Oooh, this sounds interesting. It’s one of the avenues I am trying to pursue in changing my career path to something that might actually net me some sort of income one day.

    3. Nobody

      “Knowledge is not a zero-sum resource!”

      Exactly! This question reminds me of the one last week from the person who doesn’t want to train coworkers because he thinks hoarding the information will make him more valuable. OP #1 seems to be looking at this situation as other people mooching off her knowledge, but I read the question and think how awesome it is that the OP has so quickly been able to establish herself as a leader and expert, both to her peers and to her professor. This is a really valuable quality to have at work. Employers want to hire people who will not only take the initiative to get the information they need, but use their skills and knowledge to help others do better work.

      That said, it is a little bit different in school because part of the point of going to school is learning how to learn. What is considered collaboration at work could be considered cheating at school, so it’s important not to cross that line. I don’t think telling people about the behind-the-scenes tour crosses that line, but letting them read or copy from your report would.

  15. hbc

    OP1: Can I ask why you told the lecturer? I can’t say this is true for every case in your history, but it seems like this one was easily kept in-house. You go, you write your report (which is better because of behind-the-scenes knowledge), and continue on with life.

    However, if you’re invested in your image of being the person with all the info and ambition, don’t hide your light under a bushel, but also don’t be flummoxed as to where all these moths are coming from. Brush them off with “I don’t know/remember, ask Professor Google.”

    1. OP 1

      Hi! As I mentioned above I had to tell the lecturer as the museum required a teacher/lecturer to verify and confirming the booking of the tour before we could go on it – so there was no way around it. She said she was sure other’s would like to know it was available and then proceeded to call me out as the one who brought this information to her knowledge ie so now everyone thinks I’m the expert.

      And that’s a really good point. I always speak up in classes etc and yeah, I guess I have carved my own future as ‘that’ person so no, I shouldn’t be surprised when they flock to me!

      1. hbc

        Makes sense in this case, sounded a little bit attention-seeking without the context. For what it’s worth, I’ve often had to redirect people with, “I just googled it. If that doesn’t work, show me where you got stuck.” Putting it back on them filters out the terminally lazy.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        It’s really okay. Being “that person” has only benefited me, as long as you **watch your time**. The younger me ended up putting too much time into helping others so I had to find a right balance, but besides that, it only helps get you ahead. The right people will pay you back when it is your time to need help, which is going to happen.

        1. OP 1

          You’re so right, Wakeen. In a former life when I had a different focus, I put a lot of energy into helping others. It was great, but since I said ‘yes’ to everything it drained me and my work suffered. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I’m getting better at saying No, and meaning it/sticking to it.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            I had the help of some bosses in my late 20’s who just, nicely, beat me up about it. I’d transitioned into a straight commission sales person and they were hopeful that I was going to do big numbers for them. It drove them crazy to see me running around helping people, answering questions, being a resource, for people they viewed as having far less potential.

            It took them at least five sit downs and a year to beat it out of me. It took me that long to grasp was that weren’t asking “don’t be yourself” but they were asking “use some wiser time management, ffs, do what’s profitable for both you and the company”.

            I did find the balance.

        2. Cat

          I’m also thinking of that Sheryl Sandberg article recently about how women end up taking on a lot more of the “office housework” tasks, which I think is another thing to be conscious of. There’s a benefit to being the go-to person, but not necessarily the go-to person on everything (your co-workers can figure out where to order birthday cakes from themselves, sometimes).

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            This is arguably true in my younger years, although I was never the birthday cake person. It is arguably true that the cultural female element (this was circa 1987 taking place) is what took so long for my bosses to get through to me, why it was so hard for me to change from helping as my first priority.

            Can we give a shout out to my middle aged male bosses for banging me up about it? I think about that frequently. They were such a crazy good influence on me, that way.

  16. A Non

    #2: I often start emails with “Hello everyone” or “Hello all”. Not sure if that’s the best option, but it hasn’t gotten me in trouble yet.

  17. A Non

    Also, I’m not sure from the letter what stage of life OP #1 is at, but I’m wondering if they’re a youngster in college. I remember this being an issue in college, and then pretty much not being an issue afterwards. When you’re not all assigned to do the same thing, it makes it a lot harder to mooch. Roll your eyes and get through it, but whatever you do don’t lose that trait because it’s going to make you kick-ass in the workforce.

    If you’ve already been in the working world a bit and are still having this experience, never mind. You may be at a higher level of kick-ass than I’ve experienced, or I lost more than I realized going from school to work.

    1. OP 1

      Hi! I’m 28 years old, in grad school. I’ve worked in the industry I’m doing Masters in for 6 years, so I’m not a complete novice and do hold knowledge already. But with my example, I know zero about museums and just did a simple Google search which anyone could have done!

      But thanks :) I think you’re right, and this trait does serve me well at work! I’m just annoyed now. But as you say, once college is done it’s not like at work there will be 200 people with the same assignment.

  18. Bridget

    with group emails, I usually start with “All”

    Does that sound weird?

    When it’s all lawyers (and specifically copying all attorneys on a case, representing different parties), I start with “Counsel.” Some of the dudes on the email reply to the same group of people with “gentlemen,” which is irritating, although I can’t tell whether it’s a result of cluelessness or passive aggression.

    1. Nachos Bell Grande

      The only time I see “All” in emails is as a greeting for an email that ends in death or layoffs, but I can see lawfolk being a little stuffier in their email expectations.

    2. Cat

      I had a case where I was the only women lawyer except one and that one would always address emails and letters to “Ms. [Cat] and gentlemen.” It felt weird to me and I haven’t ever seen anyone else do it.

      1. Anon369

        Curious though – what would the alternative be if there are several gentlemen? “Lady and gentlemen?” They may be technically correct.

        1. a

          In my opinion, just not using gendered language is probably best. “Everyone” seems fine to me.

  19. Nachos Bell Grande

    Usually there’s a specific description of the group I’m emailing, so I’ll start with a “Hey, Blog Squad!” or “Good morning, Team Teapot” as a salutation. Other than that, Good Morning (which I abuse the crap out of, as an East Coaster working with mostly Pacific folks)

  20. Caroline

    #2: I’ve tried to be really conscious about avoiding addressing a mixed group as “guys”, as I think it’s very (subtly) problematic. (Ie, I’d never get mad at someone who included me in “guys” but I do think it’s dismissive, and problematic and needs fixing, especially in fields like mine with few women!)

    To be honest, I find myself having to consciously not say “Hey guys” even when I’m addressing a group of all women!

    My solutions:
    Hey Folks
    Hey Team
    Hi y’all
    outside of work:
    Hi Friends
    Hi Dear Ones
    Hi Loved Ones

    And in directly addressing a group:
    You (which, although ambiguous, is the grammatically correct plural pronoun in many dialects of English, including the West Coast American version I speak)
    Both/All of you
    You all

    Y’all sounds SO southern to me, which being in California sounds “weird”, but I think it is the ideal solution to this problem, and I hope it becomes widely embraced.

    1. Ruth (UK)

      In America y’all may sound southern. In England it would sound downright cartoonishly American to me.. It would be equally as silly as opening with ‘howdy partners’ or something.

      I use hi all or hi everyone. Or sometimes just hi or hello on its own.

      Some people I work with use chaps or fellows. This sounds outdated to me (gender issues aside) but to my colleague who spent time living in America, sounds hilariously British.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Agree! It’s all about the local environment.

        At work I generally begin “Hi Jane”. If I am contacting a stakeholder for the first time I start with “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” then take my cue from the reply. People vary so I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot by striking the wrong note. Relationship management (those very words) is something I am reviewed on.

      2. Paul

        As a Brit I would definitely think “y’all” a bit cartoonish. WordPress starts emails with “howdy” which grates as well and actually communicates to me that they don’t keep an open mind to non-American users of their services.

        If you’re writing only to local coworkers or people that you know however, and you think they’d have no problem with “y’all” then by all means use it. At my company in Yorkshire, “Now then” or “Ey up” is a perfectly acceptable way to start off an internal email.

        (As a side note, do people think colloquialisms are more acceptable if you’re able to read the email in the sender’s voice in your mind? If that makes sense.)

        1. Claire (Scotland)

          Yeah, the Americanisms come across weirdly in text.

          “do people think colloquialisms are more acceptable if you’re able to read the email in the sender’s voice in your mind?” Not to me, because I don’t hear things in other voices like that in my head. I hear it in MY voice, so use of colloquialisms I wouldn’t use jumps out at me and feels off.

        2. LBK

          I think “y’all” is a love or hate thing. I have zero (US) Southern roots and have never lived in the South but I personally love it and use it a lot.

          1. Hlyssande

            I’m a transplant to MN and I’ve actually noticed y’all creeping into my vocabulary up here. The really nice thing about it is that it’s an informal non-gendered plural form of address.

            But when someone writes ‘hey ya’ll’ I can’t not hear it in Paula Deen’s voice, so I never use it when starting emails.

      3. nona

        It’s all in what sounds natural for you. I’m southern and “y’all” sounds familiar enough. “Chaps” or “fellows,” yep, British! Those would sound hilarious in my accent and seem really out of place in an email from me.

      4. Ask a Manager Post author

        That’s hilarious. Every time I write “y’all” now, it’s going to play as “howdy partners” in my head, and I’m going to be amused.

    2. amy

      Australia here and I always used to address emails to my all female team with ‘hi guys’. It was also the go to in conversations and text messages. My boss would email ‘hi ladies’ and greet us like that but he did also use gentleman when our very few male staff were in.

    3. clarie

      I work at a Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) organization and the norm for group emails is “Friends” (naturally). I like it; it’s cordial and gender-neutral, and I think it’s professional enough, although I understand it might not work as well in a corporate environment.

  21. A Fly on the Wall

    OP1, I can certainly sympathize with your frustration, and I’ve been in your shoes quite a bit. One thing to think about is that it might be a sign that you’re accomplishing some of your professional goals, and are just a little bit ahead of your peers at what I think about as “the expert’s demeanor.”

    You mention you’re in grad school and seem pretty serious about it, and in my experience that means one (or more) of three things:
    1) You want to pursue a career in academia
    2) You are looking for specialized knowledge to advance your career
    3) You are pursuing one of several professional licensure tracks that requires postgrad education

    All three of these goals can be boiled down to: you want to become an expert in a field. That’s great, but the problem with being an expert is that people are going to ask you for expert advice, and because they aren’t experts themselves, they oftentimes aren’t going to know the difference between an expert in teapot lid handle design and an expert in teapot spouse design. If you’re really lucky they’ll get “expert in teapot design,” but far more likely they will expect you to be an expert in all teapot related matters. Handling those people graciously can be a real career enhancer.

    The second part of this is that you’ve become “recognized as an expert,” which means that even other experts think you know a bit more. A lot of times this is because you have polished communication, teaching, and social skills. Trust me when I say that Steven Hawking doesnt have the reputation he does (only) because of his skills and knowledge, but also because he’s very skilled at imparting that knowledge to others. For a lot of people, this stage in a career is something that they spend a lifetime aspiring to.

    Basically, I’m saying three things: it’s hugely annoying, it probably won’t stop, and if you play it right, you can make a very successful career out of being the one everyone asks for help.

    1. OP 1

      Oh you’re so true! Thank you for that considered response. I’ve worked in the industry for 6 years and aren’t shy about speaking up so I definitely am getting that reputation among my peers. A lot of them, including my friends, have no experience in the field. I am sitting between a 2 and a 3 of your options; I need this to become qualified to move up and be accredited in the field and to cement my work experience. I know grad school is very 50/50 on AAM but for me/my industry/my country (not America) it is the best move :)

      And you’re right. I am starting to get that at work – or at least the person willing to always help out and assist where I can, as obviously everyone at work is much higher in their careers than me and know more!

      I am definitely getting that reputation at school and need to re-evaluate my position and be more aware of it, and learn how to handle it better and not just get frustrated.

      Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful reply :)

  22. OP 1

    Alison, I just want to say such a heart-felt thank you for answering my question.

    Your answer is so considered (as always!!), and all the other commenters who are replying so thoughtfully has made me look at the issue different ways and teaching me to see it as a skill and to embrace it.

    Thank you!

  23. Marzipan

    OP#1, I would really encourage you to embrace the teamwork aspects of this situation, which will really be beneficial in the workplace in the future.

    So, for example, the museum visit thing. It sounds like you’re thinking of it as, ‘dammit, I found out about this and now everyone knows and that takes away my competitive edge’. I can (sort of) see that in a course context, but imagine how that would play in a workplace – if, say, I found out about a conference that would be really relevant for my work, would it be better for my employer if I quietly went on my own and then didn’t share what I’d learned there, or if I made the rest of my team aware so we could all go? In fact, the expectation in my workplace is that if anyone does go to a conference or course, they give a presentation to the wider team upon their return, so the organisation gets the widest possible benefit from their investment in sending someone.

    And honestly, if I felt that my team members were taking the position that their relevant knowledge was a private resource they didn’t want to share with others, that would cause me problems as a manager, because what I’d have there wouldn’t be a team but a group of competing individuals not working towards a common goal. (I equally have a problem if people are being lazy and relying on others too much, but you take my point.)

    There’s absolutely a place for competition in life, in academia, and in work; but to be honest I would worry less about this, if I were you, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if you’re good, you don’t need to keep your knowledge to yourself to get ahead; your edge will come from ability and application. So, that museum visit – it’s not the going in the first place that’s important; it’s how you use the experience, which isn’t affected at all by who else is or isn’t there. And secondly, because sharing your knowledge actually helps consolidate it. It doesn’t dilute your knowledge, it strengthens it through forcing you to think about it, to express it concisely, to really get a handle on it yourself.

    1. OP 1

      Such good points, thank you!

      I guess I’d feel differently if it was in the work place because as you said, common goals and all that.

      For study, I feel that I am competing against others: for grades, for lecturer’s approval, for grad jobs and so on. It does feel more like a me versus them than a work system would.

      And you’re right. Today after class another tutor (not from the museum subject) commented to me that he’d defer to me a lot in class as I have a lot of knowledge that he’d like to call upon. So yeah, my reputation is preceding me! Haha

      1. jhhj

        You’re not competing. Your lecturer can approve of many students. Your grades are generally not being given based on the rest of your class’s. (There are weird exceptions here, but typically there’s just a scale of A-work, B-work, C-work, and how the distribution goes is how it goes.)

        You are going to compete for jobs, but “Katniss is really good at [x] but doesn’t work well with other people/share knowledge with other people” is not going to serve you well when it comes to references, and people aren’t going to assume that of course you will act differently at work.

        (There might also be some gendered components here, but not knowing the field or culture I cannot say.)

      2. bridget

        Depending on your grad program, becoming the go-to person among your classmates may be the better long-term plan, even if it may come with some loss of short-term competitive edge. These are the people who will be your future colleagues. In law school, I was happy to share notes, outlines, research, be active in study groups, etc., and even help people study for classes I had previously taken (while being careful to balance that with my other time constraints so my own work didn’t suffer). Law school grading is really important for jobs and is competitive; students are ranked against one another. But I think it was really the best decision. The information was really solidified because explaining/teaching concepts helps me retain it and understand it better, so my grades in the short term didn’t suffer.

        As for the long term, people appreciated it and I acquired a reputation to be both an expert in certain fields (which, because I was just a law student, really wasn’t deserved; it was more of a perception of capability than anything else) as well as a helpful and reliable person. That reputation carries over into my professional career now – people assume I have the skills and expertise necessary to do just about anything, whether I do or not. Lawyers depend hugely on client referrals from other lawyers, as well as reputation, and I get much more than my fair share of both of those, because my former classmates feel like they can trust me to get it done right. They wouldn’t have that opinion of me had I hoarded information resources.

        Said with the caveats that others have noted: 1) the tone to strike is dependable and helpful, not over-the-top intense and controlling, and 2) make sure you prioritize your own success and learn how to say no when necessary.

        1. scribbles

          I just want to chime in to say that there are absolutely times when being the ‘helpful’ person in academia is to your disadvantage, and that time is when you are not receiving tangible credit for the help you provide. As an example, it does you absolutely no good to help people with research projects (I’m a scientist), and not receive coauthorship on the resulting paper. Unfortunately, female scientists often need to do much more ‘help’ in order to be considered an equal contributor to a research project, compared to male scientists. Your expertise may not count as much as someone else’s. You may also find that your work is sometimes attributed to others (e.g., “Thanks [male student in your class] for taking the initiative to find out about that museum!”, which thankfully it sounds like did not happen this time).

          I don’t know how to fix this problem, as I am also a ‘helper’ and I also believe that collaboration and knowledge-sharing is more beneficial to science in the long term. But in academia, sharing is not always the best option, if the people around you cannot be trusted to receive that sharing appropriately. Listen to your gut, and if you feel like you’re being taken advantage of, pull back on your help for those people.

  24. super anon

    Op 2: Why not go with a “hey/hi everyone”? That’s the opening I would use when sending emails to groups of both men and women and no one ever complained.

  25. Buu

    On #1 I remember when a bunch of us got made redundant people kept asking where I was finding jobs to apply for. It was a tad awkward because we’d be going for the same jobs. In the end what I did was forward everyone a list the resume writing sites I was using for advice, people were happy with that and I didn’t end up feeling like I was doing their job search for them. If your class has a Facebook page or some kind of online group perhaps you could get some kind of generic resource list going?, then if people ask say ” oh it’s all on the Facebook page”.
    I’m guessing your Lecturer feels the same way and is wondering why people don’t just Google it, and is using you as an example; and instead of taking the hint people are just asking you. If you go this route make sure people don’t expect you to be updating it all the time though!

    1. OP 1

      We do have a Facebook group, which, you guessed it, I started! I do post all this stuff on there but it doesn’t seem to sink in. Perhaps that’s something else to say: “It’s on Facebook!” (in a cheerful, upbeat voice then change the subject haha)

        1. BadPlanning

          Daily conversations at my work:
          Thor: Hey, how do I do that multi step process?
          Athena: It’s on the wiki
          Thor: Where on the wiki?
          Athena: Team page, under “Handy stuff”
          Thor: Errrrr.
          Athena: I’ll IM you the link to the page.

      1. Buu

        Yeah that’s all I would say and then move on, also consider putting the fact you started the group on your resumé or using it as a job interview response.

    2. soitgoes

      That’s a good approach. I think that when you’re competing for something that is limited (a job or admission into a grad program) it’s okay to be stingy with help.

  26. Chocolate Teapot

    2. I will start an email “Ladies” if I am sending to a group of all-female co-workers. However I find if someone starts an email with “Chocolate Teapot” I find it a bit blunt.

  27. UK Nerd

    I want to start emails with “Hello humans”. But then I once almost filled in the race section in a diversity form with ‘human’. Maybe I play too much D&D? Maybe everybody else doesn’t play enough D&D?

    1. Marzipan

      A colleague of mine is currently pregnant and I’m afraid I do occasionally refer to “Jane’s human baby”…

      1. jamlady

        My sister is a lawyer in a HUGE accounting firm and one of the higher ups actually said, when assigning tasks, “…Harry, Ron, Hermione (and of course, Hermione’s unnamed male fetus), Luna, and Neville…”

        And in a P.S. of “I’ve always favored the name Remus.”

      2. LBK

        One thing that always cracks me up is when people specify”We’re expecting a baby boy” as if it might turn out to be a teenage boy or a middle-aged man instead.

  28. Dew E. Decimal

    I’m a big fan of “Hi Everyone.” I write like I speak (for better or for worse) and I don’t think I’d ever say “Hi All” out loud because it doesn’t roll very nicely for me. That double vowel maybe? Anyways, “Everyone” seems pretty inclusive, work appropriate for a range of people in the hierarchy, and friendly. If I’m feeling fancy, I might make it “Good morning, Everyone” or some such.

  29. AB

    I always put good morning or good afternoon when I’m unsure how to address someone in an email or am addressing a group. This esp works well when I have to send something to someone and I’m not sure of their gender. It also is neither formal nor informal, but works when either situation is called for.

    1. soitgoes

      In folksy feel-good truisms, no. But in the real world, people who gain a reputation for being able to easily navigate the logistics of planning events or being really organized often have to carry the people who aren’t able to. Have you ever been that one roommate who always wanted to pay the bills on time but no one else remembered the due date? Have you ever been tasked with calling a hotel (booked in your name because you’re the only one whose credit card was accepted) because two more people want to come on the spring break trip? And if things go wrong, you’re the one who’s accused of not trying hard enough?

  30. Poohbear McGriddles

    Beware, Folks and People are rival gangs. Better to stick with “What up playas”.

    All sounds formal. Being a southerner, I use y’all freely but never as a salutation.

  31. shep

    #2 – I work in a mid-sized agency setting and we get a lot of group emails that begin with “Hello everyone,” or “Hi all.” Our IT director sends emails with various iterations of the salutation, “Good morning, elite staff,” which very much delights me. I like that the adjective is both very tongue-in-cheek and also endearing.

  32. EE

    How about ‘Colleagues,”? Or possibly “All,”?

    And if you’re feeling a little off-beat there’s always “Comrades”…

  33. jamlady

    #5 – I just got through reading the original letter and the attached thread. Such a crazy situation! Your ex-friend is an absolute loon. I do think there are a lot of insightful things said in the original comments (harsh but honest advice – things that will absolutely help in the long run), so I’m glad you took it all to heart and have made great steps toward a better future. Just keep moving forward!

    1. LizNYC

      I, too, am glad this situation resolved the best way it could (your friend sounded like a loon!), and that you got another job. Yay!

      I had to chuckle, though, at “after being off on maternity leave for 4 years…” I know exactly what you meant, but part of me thought “that’s one heck of a pregnancy!”

      1. Vanelope Von Schweetz

        LW2 with a new name. Yes she is an absolute Looney Tune!

        LOL, ya it was one heck of a pregnancy! Actually it was two pregnancies, my kids are 4 and 2.5. 16 months apart. I don’t recommend it. LOL

  34. LizB

    #2: I often open emails with “Hi everyone,”. If I’m talking to a defined group of people or team, I’ll often refer to them by their role/team name: “Hi marketing department,” “Hello 6th grade teachers,” etc.

    #1: This is not a totally serious suggestion, but there’s a wonderful website called “Let Me Google That For You” that will generate a link to a little video of typing in the appropriate search term and pressing Search, then forward the watcher to that search results page. (I’ll put an example link in a reply to this comment.) I wouldn’t actually use it unless you really hate the person and want them to think you’re a passive-aggressive jerk, but it can be comforting to imagine yourself sending it to someone who really should know to just freaking Google it.

    1. Barko21

      @ #1

      I’ve used that site and sent the link, but it was to someone who was a work friend, so we could get away being snarky with one another.

      Generally my response is, “If only there were some way to Google that.”

  35. RandomName

    #2 I often send emails to an address I know several people monitor (both male and female) and I decided to go with “Good Morning” and “Good Afternoon” as my greeting.

  36. jhhj

    #1 — These people in your field will one day be your colleagues. Build bridges to them, don’t burn everything down because you believe you are competing for higher grades (in very few programs are there rules about the number of As/Bs/Cs you need to give out once you are in grad school) and their successes will impede yours. It isn’t true, most of the time, and one day you might be happy to have a few names you can call upon.

    You’re looking short term — the grade in this one course — and you should be looking to what will help you for the rest of your career.

  37. JMW

    OP1 You have mentioned in the thread that you naturally lead. Leading is extra work. It means you will find information first, and when you share it, people will keep coming back to you for more. It means people come to expect things of you because you have shown yourself to be dependable. It means when a group project comes, you will be the one that makes sure it gets completed, doing the work yourself when others don’t do their share.

    I suggest you embrace leadership. Instead of complaining about the downsides (yes, it can be draining!), start reading about leadership and honing your leadership skills, because being able to lead is a gift that can bring you much fulfillment. The work world is more collaborative than it is competitive, and leaders must be the best sharers on the team.

    1. MissDisplaced

      I was thinking along these lines myself. Yeah, it can be annoying, especially in school. But *someday* this will pay off in the working world and OP will be seen as a natural self-starter who is independent with leadership abilities. It’s a good thing to cultivate… really it is! :-)

      But I still understand it can be a bit of a pain at times, especially if you begin to feel that certain people take advantage too much or you’re spending so much time doing for others and not yourself. Lead and assist, but strike a balance with it as well.

  38. Zatchmort

    I’ve made #2 a bit of a personal project since starting my current job in a tech field where there is one woman in my workgroup – plus the boss! The first time I caught myself starting with “Hey Guys,” it immediately felt wrong. You can certainly just start in if that’s your style/the norm where you work, but my office is full of warm-and-fuzzy types like myself where skipping the greeting/salutation would be weird. Others have mentioned Hi team, Hi all, and Hello, everyone! Since we’re pretty casual, I also use:
    -Hi gang
    -Greetings, _____ comrades! (Especially useful when filling in the blank with another workgroup – I wouldn’t use it with stakeholders outside my department or for dire situations, but everyone in IT has a sense of humor under normal circumstances.)
    My neighbor has a really good one, “Fellow XYZers,” where XYZ is the specific job function the e-mail is about – it’s a greeting AND introduces the context of the e-mail, bonus! :D

    1. Andy

      Fellow XYZers! That’s great! I was looking for a good substitute for “Hi Everyone”. perfecto!

  39. Hlyssande

    OP 5, I’m so happy to hear that things have worked out for you!

    If your former friend is still trying to get in contact with you via other friends, can you explain to them that you don’t want any contact with her and ask them not to pass anything on to you about ex-friend? It’s ridiculous that she’s trying to get back into your life this way.

    1. Vanelope Von Schweetz

      I am LW2 (new name!). It was a weird situation of her sending a friend of hers to me to make a retirement cake (i used to make cakes as a little side business). I knew it was her trying to get to me as the friend mentioned that Looney Tunes had recommended me. I responded and said no thanks, i am no longer doing cakes, i’m too busy with non-baking related stuff. i have definitely made it clear to gossipy friends who will spread the news that i don’t want anything to do with her.
      thanks for the note! i am in a really great place right now.

  40. soitgoes

    OP1: This is the 2828282828th time I’ve referred to Monica Geller on this site but…yeah. While no one’s going to take credit for your ability to easily go the extra mile, other people will eventually depend on you to always do that. In general, try to avoid getting into the habit of planning events (or ski trips, camping trips, etc) too often unless you happen to want to get into event planning as a career. Because yes, it’s annoying and damaging to professional and personal relationships when you don’t want to plan something and then people blame you when they don’t get to go.

    OP2: I’ve never had a problem with simply saying, “Hello” and getting on with it. You could say, “Hi team.”

  41. Rebecca

    OP#1 – I wish I could get people to “mooch off my knowledge”. It would save me a lot of time and aggravation at work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “Oh, I see you’re struggling with that task. I found a quicker and easier way in Excel to do that, can I show you how so it’s not so hard?” Most of the time I get “I don’t have time to learn all that fancy stuff” or “this will only take a few more hours and it will be done”. I feel like it’s their loss, but I get irritated when my boss finds me to fix something that could have been solved hours or days before had someone just learned a new skill.

  42. matcha123

    I remember when I did group projects in school and a number of times I felt like I was left to do more work or better quality work while my team members goofed off. In university, I had a girl that just did nothing, skipped class, never did her part of the projects we had to present, etc. I let the teacher know what was up early on and when I got an A and she flunked, she came to me complaining about the teacher.

    In that sense, I can understand where OP1 is coming from. But, I find the idea of classmates as competition distasteful. I’ve always felt that way because the classmates who looked at grades and such as a competition dominated my schools until I graduated and it made school all that much more stressful.

    Seeing others as competition, keeping knowledge to yourself, etc. is not something you change overnight. It does come out in the workplace and does cause problems with coworkers. Sharing a reasonable amount of information when asked makes you look good. You get a reputation as someone with useful information; the person others go to when they need help.

    Maybe I’m reading too much into things based on my experience, but it seems like making the Facebook page and such and so on are done less because the OP wants to do them to help others and more as a calculated way of showing how you attack and fix problems. I don’t know. Growing up in that kind of environment really turned me off.

    1. soitgoes

      Group projects are one thing. No one likes doing them, and the idea that they teach you how to operate in the workplace doesn’t hold water. As an adult, I’ve heard several teacher acquaintances admit that they assign group projects so they have less work to grade.

      But as adults, we’ve all done great work and had someone else take credit at least once. There have been a million AAM emails about it. It’s worth figuring out a way to make yourself stand out in positive ways that can’t be mimicked by other people at the 11th hour.

  43. Katie the Fed

    #2 –

    I use the following:

    “ALCON” (short for “all concerned” – it’s a military acronym)
    or if more casual “folks”

    1. one whose name was writ in water

      “ALCON” – I like that. I’m going to use it next chance I get.

      All joking aside: if I’m emailing a small group of people (say 4 or less), I’ll use their individual names (“Hey Bob, Ted, Carole, and Alice”) on the principle that I want all of the people to know that I’m addressing each of them. I’ve had incidents in the past where I started with “Hello everyone” and no-one accepted ownership of the stuff described in the email content. It’s the email equivalent of that sad Kitty Genovese situation in NYC years ago.

  44. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)


    I do “Hi all,” “Hi team,” “Hi folks,” and “Hi friends.” “Team” when it’s a group of people working toward a shared goal, “folks” when it’s a group of people I’m just getting to know, “friends” when it’s people who are grouped by some sort of affection/connection (to the organization, to another person, etc.), and “all” for everything else.

  45. CrazyCatLady

    #2 I sometimes start an email just with “Hello” … but one time got feedback that I should specifically address who I wanted information from or who I was actually talking to. It was from someone who didn’t really seem to pay attention to who was in the CC field. So now I tend to you “Hi everyone” so at least people know they’re not the sole recipient of the email.

      1. AW

        You know, I was actually about to ask whether people who are in the CC line instead of the To line should be addressed in the salutation or not.

        I guess even if they’re not there should be some acknowledgement that the CC recipients need to be kept in the conversation.

        1. Persephone Mulberry

          The one thing I dislike about Gmail is that it did away with separating the “To” from the “CC”, and in my salutation I purposely don’t address the people who would otherwise be cc’ed. It’s my shorthand for “Myrtle, I’m copying you on this so that you’re in the loop but I really only need a response from Cynthia.”

  46. Beancounter in Texas

    #4 – While I think Alison’s advice is spot on, I would advise asking the question in a positive stance, “The company has a bonus program for referrals, doesn’t it?” Asking it in the negative makes it too easy for the answer to be a simple “No,” and doesn’t really open the door to discussion. Asking it positively invites a positive answer and a conversation about bonuses, even if the initial answer is no. Just my two-cent sociopsychology.

    Good luck! I hope you get something tangible as recognition, even if it’s extra PTO instead of cash.

  47. Mimmy

    #5 – I skimmed through the original letter and comments…yikes!! That friend sounds very manipulative and am glad to hear that you’ve finally disengaged. It also seems that you have learned from this experience and have been moving forward in your life. Congrats on the new job!!

    P.S. I spotted one awesome comment from hildi and Alison invited her to write a piece for AAM…did that happen? I think I remember something from her recently, but am not 100% because I don’t remember the exact topic of what I’m thinking of, lol.

    1. Blue_eyes

      Yes, there was an interview with Hildi on January 22nd. The title is “interview with an incredibly diplomatic person … or how to agreeably disagree” you can search for it in the archives (not linking so this won’t get caught in moderation).

  48. Boo

    #2 I personally think you’re way overthinking this. I normally just start mine with “good morning/afternoon” as applicable and then get to the point. (I’m an EA, though so I need to be a bit formal/polite at least until I’ve worked up a good rapport with whomever I’m talking to).

    My only advice would be not to start your email with “Listen” as a former co-worker of mine used to do, TO EVERYONE. It came off as really rude and drove me completely batty ;)

  49. TT

    Wow I had no idea there was this much thought put into a salutation, but really when I think about it I do it as well. I tend to use “Hi All, Hello All, Hey Team Fillintheblank) when I’m writing. Sometimes emails to senior staff members can get a little hairy. If the email is sharing information, asking questions AND giving instructions I break it down

    Hi All,
    General Info/Background on the issue as I understand it

    Nancy – ask a question
    Drew and Hardy – give direction

    Closing message to the group

  50. AW

    LW#2 – I find that if I have to send an email to more than 3 or 4 people, the reason why I’m emailing them at the same time works as the salutation.

    So it’s:
    [JOB FUNCTION] in Northeast Region
    Volunteers for [EVENT NAME]
    People with [SUBJECT AREA] Experience

    That doesn’t always work, sometimes the explanation for why you’re emailing a group of people is too wordy. Then you have to say something like ‘All’ or ‘Everyone’. But if you can say who you’re addressing, even if it’s a group, it’s helpful.

  51. Jules

    I’d like to start my email with “Greetings mortal” but given that this is a work email, I typically start with Good morning (if emailing individuals) and to a group of mix genders, “Hi team or hi all” If you have time to read further into my greeting than the content of my email, I am not doing my email authoring right.

  52. Christian Troy

    #1, I feel for you. I hated grad school because you were simultaneously competitive with your classmates and also had to work on group projects with them. I started absorbing a lot of the group project work because I couldn’t trust some of my classmates. I also started distancing myself from people that I felt were only talking to me to get information about my job search, interviews etc.

    I think in general, it’s important to keep healthy boundaries in this situation. You can be polite and helpful, but don’t drain your own mental resources trying to help people.

  53. Student

    Informal: “Hi folks”, [“Hello folks”] – this is unoffensive to people of all age and gender groups. It’s really hard to come up with a complaint against “folks” other than that it isn’t super-business-formal. This is my default for internal salutations to three or more people. I haven’t gotten any complaints yet. If you work in an area where southern-isms like “Y’all” are viewed negatively or not clear enough (foreign correspondence), this is a great alternative.

    Formal: “Hello,” [“Hello everyone”, “Hello all”] – I use “Hello all,” on formal external email communications to multiple people. No one has complained or remarked upon it.

    Formal + hierarchy: “Hello Bob Importantclient and team,” – for when Bob really wants to be recognized as the important guy or contact point, but you really have to cc his team to actually get anything done.

    Formal alternative: “Greetings” – I’ve got a co-worker who uses this as his default salutation, and it works for every situation.

  54. Barney Stinson

    One thing I don’t get is the part where colleagues start emails with “Hi, Barney! How are you?” and then launch into their comment/observation/request. These are people who then chastise me for not doing the same in my own emails.

    It feels so odd…just get on with whatever you need! If I see you in person or talk to you on the phone, I’ll ask how everyone’s doing, but in an email, it sounds like letters I would write to my grandma when I was a kid (Dear Grandma: I’m fine. How are you?)

    I’m kinda anti-social, so there’s that, too.

  55. Dmented Kitty

    Rants RE #1 — I was sort of in the same case during my high school years. Our school has a book sale where you can buy school supplies, and the textbooks you need for the upcoming school year weeks before the first day of school. We have an Literature subject that I absolutely loved not only because of the “new book smell”, but I loved reading, and I would just devour the entire textbook during the summer break. I had the advantage of knowing pretty much everything from the book, so it wasn’t a hard time keeping up with reading assignments (and next-day pop quizzes).

    My classmates knew I read a lot and have read/re-read for every single reading assignment, but a lot of the more “popular” ones happen to have “no” time to read, so they’d flock around me and asked what yesterday’s reading assignment was all about — mostly a brief summary. There was a fair amount of inward eye-rolling, but I just sucked it up and just gave them what they wanted. FWIW, most of them sucked at the pop quizzes and only those people who actually did the reading assignments were able to answer any questions from the teacher, and I just thought that was a way for me to still stand out in class.

    Also, I hate to say it but most of my classmates are parasites back then. I can’t even afford to buy lunches from the cafeteria and eat whatever lunch my mom makes me, but I see them buying stuff here and there; but when the teacher asks to pull out a sheet of paper for a pop quiz, and I pull out a paper pad they all stick out their hands and ask me for a sheet from the pad. I don’t mind sparing a sheet or two to those who happen to be out of paper, but have 40 PEOPLE in class, and about half the class asks me for paper they could easily afford. I consistently went through a pad in so short a time I had no choice but to be selfish and started bringing just half a dozen sheets everyday so I can make up a white lie that “I’m out of paper”.

    1. Dmented Kitty

      Jeez I am missing some pronouns here but I hope the rant’s understandable — FYI I grew up in an Asian country hence the different school practices.

      I didn’t bother to proofread because boss decided to call it a day at 3:30PM and said go home and enjoy the bright spring sunshine and I’m excited to run out! :)

    2. Cath in Canada

      ” a lot of the more “popular” ones happen to have “no” time to read, so they’d flock around me and asked what yesterday’s reading assignment was all about — mostly a brief summary.”

      That’s when you pull a Phoebe and tell Rachael that Jane Eyre has robots in it.

  56. Purr purr purr

    OP#1, I had the exact same situation at university and the same frustrations. In the end, it just got to be too much. I started to feel like I was a parent taking their kids along for the ride and so I called it quits. I stopped talking about the behind the scenes work I was doing and so people stopped asking me for the info (or whatever). It worked out well for me. Of course, there were a few people who seemed to think I owed them something so when I started to refuse to help them, I was called a b*tch or whatever. That’s fine though! Between classes and writing my Masters thesis, I no longer had time to drag them along behind me and I graduated with the highest degree classification possible. My advice, if this truly bothers you, is to start restricting the info you give out. For the museum example, when they ask a question that they could discover the answer to themselves, just tell them, ‘Google is really easy to use.’ Some people aren’t going to like it but hey ho…

  57. EA

    I worked at a resort hotel that had a themed greeting. It made it much easier to communicate, since we used “Aloha” for our greeting on all our emails … which could be modified to “Aloha (NAME),”, or “Aloha Everyone,”

    1. Amanda

      I learned long ago at a restaurant job not to address a table with, “Hi, guys,” and the habit has followed me; I try not to use it in professional meetings or emails. I picked up “folks” from an old boss, and that gets a lot of use. I don’t really like it but it seems formal enough and un-gendered so I usually resort to it. At my current workplace, we also use, “Hello [demonym derived the company’s name, along the lines of “Chicagoans”].”

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