Commentary: Save the hugs and kisses

By Gary Gosselin Dolan Media Newswires Maybe it's just my old-fashioned sensibility (I did hit the double nickel, after all), but a web post touting "XOXO" as a signoff on email hit me as odd (ball). Author Barbara Bogaev writes in the Marketplace Tech area of American Public Media online, that the use of XOXO-- hugs and kisses--is becoming a more commonplace email signoff among women. Hey, she said it. I'm just repeating it--with eyebrow raised. Writers Rachel Simmons and Jessica Bennett say this speaks volumes about how much women's roles in the workplace have changed, and they've written a more in-depth article about it in this month's issue of The Atlantic. They cite users such as as Diane Sawyer, a Los Angeles producer and a New York yoga instructor, among others, who use the XO or some derivation. If I get an email from someone not my mom that has XO in it, I will wonder what I did to deserve that and whether they were being sincere or were taking a swipe at me. I have yet to see that--even from my mom. But, these authors say that as many as 11 percent of female tweeters XO and an amazingly high 2.5 percent of male tweeters XO, according to some scholarly study. As relaxed as the Internet has made us all--bad punctuation, grammar, spelling, protocol, etc. --you have to think that sending business emails should be somewhat exempt from such laxness. Especially among lawyers, who are the most literal group of people I have ever met. (Sorry for the generalization, but it's true.) Bogaev does have a fun and interesting section on the webpage that provides explanations about what your signoff means and how people interpret it. For instance, roll over my favorite salutation, "Thanks," and this will pop up: "A surefire sign-off, 'Thanks' might be considered more informal than 'Thank you.' It is one of the safest of the salutations." Try "Take care," and this is your answer: "Seen as more of a personal signoff, 'Take care' is appropriate when you know the person you're emailing. Writing 'Take care' to someone you don't really know might appear insincere." They say that about take care, but seem OK with XO? They didn't have one for XOXO, so I thought I'd add my own: "Commonly used only for close personal messages, using the awkward 'XOXO' could well start a sexual harassment lawsuit or indicate to your business associates that their time with you is over!" Say what you will, but there still is a place for decorum in professional correspondence, and while I may stoop to "Thanks" or Thank you," I have never, ever offered up hugs and kisses. Take care now. Published: Thu, Feb 28, 2013

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