Death to “Dear Sir…”

Death To Dear Sir - XBox
“Dear Sir, I am writing to you this fine morn to mention a hitherto undiscovered disagreeable condition with regards my XBox. The audio is non-existent. One hath attempted removal and perusing of the HDMI cable, but, alas, this was to no avail…”

Can we agree, once and for all, that “Dear Sir” is a bloody terrible way to start an email?

At one point, someone obviously had the thought… “how can I begin a letter in a way that will convey an appropriate amount of deference and respect?”

And thus, “Dear Sir” was born.

I still remember being told to use “Dear Sir or Madam” on covering letters (yes, “letters”… I’m THAT old!) when applying for jobs.

The theory being that these four opening words would not immediately eliminate us from the job search.

(a feat that my appalling personal statement was more than adequate in achieving on its own)

Here’s the problem – “Dear Sir” is meaningless and lazy. 

It screams, “I SENT THIS EMAIL TO LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE – YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL!!!”

When you’re using the same opening as all those fake Nigerian bankers, it’s probably time to change it up a little.

Besides, how hard is it to discover someone’s name?

All it takes is a quick search… on social media… on Google… or in their recycle bins at 3 AM…

People like the sound of their own names.

We’re actually biologically wired to listen out for it. We can’t help paying attention to it when it’s used.

The exact scientific phrasing would be something like:

“There is unique brain activation specific to one’s own name in relation to the names of others”*.

Use this science – and their brain – to your advantage when trying to force an opening with someone.

Doing a little digging and avoiding the generic, “Dear Sir” approach will pay dividends.

It will make you stand out.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I just heard someone in Venezuela say my name…


* I know that because I took it from somewhere scientific (“Brain activation when hearing one’s own and others’ names“, to be exact)