Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

How did it start?

Was it some sort of an attempt at progress after too many How Are Yous?

Or was it merely something written to a friend who was genuinely sick and then it became ingrained like an odd literary tic.

I was chatting to an unusually sober PR man the other day and he was bemoaning that so many emails he gets begin with: "Hi, I hope you're well."

He's a slight hypochondriac. He drinks a lot of sweet wine to compensate.

So inquiring about his health in this way is having a deleterious effect on his health. (Especially the mental side.)

I thought, therefore, that I'd make a few suggestions on how to replace "Hi, I hope you're well" with other phrases.

I recommend you use all these and vary them.

Phrases go stale as quickly as nectarines in high summer. You need to arm yourself with several templates.

1. Hi, I Hope I've Spelled Your Name Right.

Yes, this might seem to come from out of a field beyond left. But why not at least offer a modicum of modesty and even self-doubt before you attempt to get what you want? After all, business emails are often about wanting something from somebody. I confess that I'm especially partial to this opening as, well, just look at my name.

2. Hi, Where Do You Stand On Existential Philosophy?

Again, not entirely conventional, I know. But I suspect writing any cogent and intelligent sentence might draw attention that this is not your usual dull email. By all means choose your own variant. However, I'm sure one or two people would be impressed by you asking a question important to us all, rather than a peculiarly intrusive question about one person's health.

3. Hi.

This is frightfully radical, but do you need anything after your obligatory 'Hi"? It would save a sentence of typing. Those seconds would accumulate over the days and weeks until you've saved perhaps as much as 15 minutes. That's the same amount of time per week that many people spend on sex because they're so busy. Think about that.

4. Hi, I'm Not One Of Those People Who Say I Hope You're Well, Are You?

This would have the virtue of feeling fresh, personal and creating a certain bond between you and the person you're emailing. You can immediately have them on your side and they'll be a touch more open to what you have to say. Unless they're plain dull, of course.

5. Hi, I Wonder Who The First Person To Say Hi Was.

This makes you sound thoughtful and not one to routinely spout conventional blurb. Isn't that how you'd prefer to sound? And isn't something that few, if any, would have an answer to a marvelous way of creating a bond between you and your email's receiver? Imagine if all the first lines of your subsequent emails were developments from this first question. The first lines would then hold a narrative all of their own.

6. Hi, If You're Miserable Are You Ever Tempted To Start With Low Instead, Just So People Get Your Mood Right Away?

The thing about "Hi" is it's so ineffably happy. The first word I learned when I moved to the US was spelled H-i, but it was pronounced "Hiyeeeeeee." I found this a touch much. But opening the possibility of an alternative to Hi itself might be a huge liberation for all concerned. After all, everyone says they're creative on LinkedIn and then they go and begin every email exactly the same way with an inquiry about whether the other person is feeling their mortality today.

7. Hi, Don't You Just Hate Emails?

This has a very effective ring about it. Everyone is swamped with emails. Opening your inbox these days fills your heart with dread and your eyes with a manic alertness for certain keywords. Like urgent, help and CFO. Appreciate and share the burden of emails. That way, at least you might create a small smile before the business at hand is addressed.

Published on: Aug 30, 2016
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