How do you start off your emails, and do you always feel comfortable doing it that way? The question of whether to use ‘Dear’, ‘Hi’ or just the person’s name has come up many times, most recently here. It’s certainly a tricky one. ‘Hi’ sounds too informal in many cases, but ‘Dear’ seems overly formal and rather like you’re mixing communication types (starting an email as though it were a written letter).
Personally, if I don’t know the other person well, I tend to go for ‘Hello’ rather than ‘Dear’. It seems to fit the informal nature of email, but is more respectful than just saying ‘Hi’. Leaving the salutation out altogether just seems rude to me – if I get an email that just begins ‘Sharon’, I immediately have the impression that the sender is annoyed, and I’m likely to receive their email in a less-than-welcoming frame of mind. ‘Hello’ seems a nice, neutral way to start, without upsetting anyone.