1. Grad Student

    Good morning!
    I have a question about email etiquette for greetings. I have a few colleagues who tend to address people in email using only their first name, with no greeting like “Hello”, “Dear”, or “Hi” (we know each other well, so the latter would be appropriate). Perhaps it’s just me, but starting an email with just a first name and no greeting comes across to me as a bit abrasive, almost as an indication of irritation or a perceived power differential on the part of the sender (in his/her favor…). To me, including a “Hello” or “Hi” indicates some respect and collegiality with the recipient; failing to include it if you’re willing to take the time to at least type out someone’s name comes across as a bit impersonal or annoyed.

    Does it rub anyone else the wrong way when a colleague addresses you in email by first name only, no greeting like “Hello” or “Hi”?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      The nature of email requires only to name the person you are writing to as it is only meant to be used for informal communication. If the subject is formal enough that it requires “Dear so and so” it should be a written letter.

  2. Toula

    Literally . . My life is like the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

    My parents are hosting an engagement party for my fiancé and me. Now, while they are “hosting” the party, I’m essentially planning every detail of the event. My budget is small, and after looking at every possible restaurant opportunity, I decided that it would be best to host a BBQ style dinner party at my parent’s home. We’re hosting at their home because my fiancé and my home is too small, and my parent’s home is large enough to accommodate lots of cars and the possibility of rain.

    Fast forward . . . I didn’t think about the drinking situation.

    My fiancé’s family members are HUGE drinkers. Every family gathering ALWAYS has a full bar. And at each gathering, their first question to me is “What would you like in your cocktail?” And by every gathering, I mean even a Sunday dinner…

    Now stemming mostly from religious reasons, my parents never drink. Literally they’ve had one bottle of rum in their house for 27 years, which has only been used for baking. However, as of late my parents have eased into enjoying a sip or two of dessert wine. And this year at Christmas they decided to purchase a few bottles of wine since my fiancé, and some family friends were coming over, and they knew that it would be nice to have wine with dinner despite not drinking.

    So the dilemma… for the semi-casual BBQ affair I figured that I’d have soft drinks, water, beer, wine and toasting champagne . (While my parents have never purchased beer, and don’t typically have alcohol in the house I figured this would be a nice way to accommodate both drinkers and non drinkers…) However my fiancé is NOT happy at all. And by not happy I mean totally ticked. He wants a full bar and feels that there should be liquor to accommodate his friends and family as they’ve always accommodated my non drinking preferences. AND if we don’t have liquor he’ll tell them to “bring a flask” . . .

    Ms. Post I need your help!

    • Gertrude

      I am not very good at manners, and I can only speak from my own experience. I visit this website as a means to familiarize myself with what is socially acceptable. My gut feeling about this is:
      – An open bar is expensive. If you can’t afford it, don’t provide it. Easy as that. Don’t go into debt over an engagement party.
      – For your fiance to tell people to “bring a flask” seems quite rude to me (correct me if I am wrong, please). It’s rude of him to undermine you and go against what you say, and it would be rude of them to be constantly whipping out flasks to sip from. It is one thing for them to bring a bottle of liquor for everyone to partake in, but it’s another thing for people to bring a flask. Is it really that big of a deal that they NEED hard liquor and can’t get by with only drinking beer? It’s a BBQ! Beer seems like an appropriate drink to me.

    • Cyra

      Hi Toula,

      If your parents are hosting, then they can provide whatever they are comfortable providing–both financially and as a matter of conscience. Full bars are EXPENSIVE! I think offering beer and wince is a nice gesture, and should be appreciated by your guests.

      If your fiance is not happy with this arrangement, he is more than welcome to host whatever type of party he wants to pay for.

      And bringing your own flask to a party is definitely rude.

    • Alicia

      Talk to your groom. Stick him with some of the questions of how to make the party nice on a fixed budget. You two will be a pair forever so team up on this.
      Some possible solutions
      1. Cut back on other aspects to afford alcohol
      2. Make 1 signature cocktail and one signature non alcoholic drink. It is cheaper to make drinks in bulk
      3. Have fiances bring his home bar over and pilfer from that so that lots of different alcohols available.
      4. Have him see the cost concerns and decide that beer and wine is sufficent
      But you two need to decide on a compromise

      • Joanna

        I’m Polish, so from my own experience I can tell you that having an open bar isn’t always just about drinking, but about hospitality, in some cultures. I couldn’t tell you for certain, but I would imagine that this goes back to the days where people couldn’t afford much, so providing alcohol was considered truly providing the best you could for your guests. I don’t know what your fiance’s background is, but it’s possible that for him and his family, that’s what the open bar is truly about. You may want to sit down and discuss it.

  3. Eileen

    Honestly, to me, that seems to be reading a lot into it. I just looked at the last few emails I got from colleagues and there was a mix of “Hi”, just a name, or no greeting at all. Especially internally, the content of an email is the most important part.

  4. Gertrude

    Hello Grad Student,

    I too am a fellow graduate student. I addressed e-mails with just first name then a comma until this exact situation was brought to my attention. I hadn’t meant it as anything abrasive, I just didn’t think anything of it. I then hear someone else speaking of how they perceived such a heading to be rude, and since then, I wrote Hello Such-and-such, as the introduction. You are not the only one who finds it rude. That being said, have patience with those of us who are ignorant about this and who do not find it rude at all. This new technology age brings up new manners questions. Glad that EPI has a book about it!


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