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Poll: How do you usually start an email to your clients? (Please choose equivalent if not in English)
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:18
SITE STAFF
Mar 21, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How do you usually start an email to your clients? (Please choose equivalent if not in English)".

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Ikram Mahyuddin  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 11:18
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Dear (first name) Mar 21, 2015

To avoid mistakes regarding status of my clients, I prefer to start my emails with "Dear (first name)".

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Giovanna Alessandra Meloni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:18
Member (2012)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Other Mar 21, 2015

It depends.
If it is the first email I send to the client, I use Mr./Mrs. and the Surname. But in the next messages I usually use the first name.


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Gudrun Maydorn  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:18
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
It depends Mar 21, 2015

How I address my clients greatly depends on the country and culture involved. In Germany/in German it would be inappropriate to address a client by their first name (unless they are friends or close acquaintances).



[Bearbeitet am 2015-03-21 09:23 GMT]


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David Earl  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:18
Member (2007)
German to English
It depends on a number of factors Mar 21, 2015

I generally use a last name, until a long-term (business) relationship has been established and then I ask. If the other person addresses me by first name, I adapt at that point.

The choice of "Mrs." or "Ms." is a much trickier issue because it indicates marital status. "Mrs." should only be used for married women and I've known unmarried women to be offended by it. "Ms." may be used for unmarried women or as a professional courtesy, however some married women are also offended by that. As one British colleague expressed it,

I worked hard to find my husband and maintain our relationship. I've earned my "Mrs." (and I most definitely am not a manuscript).


The last bit about "manuscript" was said with a humorous twinkle in the eye.

Even the courtesy of asking which form of address is appropriate/desired can offend some, because they view it as a waste of time. There is no easy way to navigate such a "minefield", except to hope that other person also has some understanding of the problem.

David.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:18
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
It depends Mar 21, 2015

New clients are addressed by Dear Mr/s and last name. Emails to long-term clients start either with Dear + first name or Hello + first name, which depends on how the client addresses me.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Impossible to say Mar 21, 2015

It depends on so many factors as mentioned in previous posts. To the question "Do you prefer your communication with regular clients to become quite informal or do you prefer to stay formal?", my answer would definitely be "informal".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:18
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends! Mar 21, 2015

When I am writing to someone for the first time, I always use a formal address. With long-term clients reciprocity is the key…

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David Earl  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:18
Member (2007)
German to English
Addendum Mar 21, 2015

I should add that tastes have changed over time.

When I first learned these salutations, the choice was between "Mrs." and "Miss.", based solely on marital status. "Ms. was invented later and intended to provide an option for professional address. It was greeted as an invented term with the usual disdain and political wrangling, in addition to its existing meaning of "manuscript".

The quoted statement was made about 6 years ago. While said with ferocity, it was also clearly intended to be humorous for both teachers and German students taking an ESL course.

It is interesting that "Miss" was not even considered in the poll. Over my lifetime, it seems to have taken on a pejorative meaning, following practically the same path as the German term "Fräulein". The original usage and meaning seems to have become a historical artifact.

David.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:18
Danish to English
+ ...
Depends on the recipient Mar 21, 2015

In Danish business communication, the standard is to leave out the salutation altogether if you contact somebody you don't know. Once contact is established, you move on to a Dear First name (or, occasionally Dear First name Surname, but very rarely a Dear Mr/Ms Surname) and eventually (often very quickly), a Hi First name.

As for contacts outside Denmark, I would go for Dear Mr/Ms Surname if I initiate the first communication, and then I would simply follow their lead from then on and communicate with the level or formality that they choose.

I always try to keep communication as simple as possible, and being Danish, I find a Hi First name most natural in most contexts...

[Edited at 2015-03-21 18:37 GMT]


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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:18
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Depends Mar 21, 2015

In English, I nearly always use 'Dear First Name', except for one client who signs his e-mails with his surname (without the first name or Mr), so he is Mr [Smith].
In Portuguese, I go for 'Prezado [José]/Prezada [Maria]' which is like 'Dear', unless the client is a personal friend when I often use Oi/Olá (which is like 'Hi').


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:18
German to English
I always do whatever they do. Mar 21, 2015

I make things easy by simply always using the same greeting and closing as they use (Hallo, Sehr geehrte/r, Liebe/r ... Mit freundlichen Grüßen, Schöne Grüße usw.). I'm on a first name basis with a handful of clients, but that is generally rare in Germany.

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:18
Member (2008)
English to Italian
other Mar 21, 2015

I start with

Dear (first name) with a couple of clients
Hi (first name) with other clients


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
When in doubt, follow the client's lead Mar 21, 2015

If I initiate the email correspondence, I usually go for formal (Dear sir/Ms. [last name or surname]. Unless I know the prospect or customer in person, I don't go by Hi, Mr. Stuart for example.

What flummoxes me is the lack of self-awareness of certain people whose names (first or last) yield no clue whatsoever as to their social status or gender. In most Western countries, languages allow for that clue; I know that Robert is male and Sally is female, despite the annoying American use of unisex names like Lindsay or Sal.

Word of advice to people in non-Western countries: when writing in English, please use Mr. or Ms. as the case may be. I don't know Korean, Burmese, Senegalese, Chinese or Turkish, so please be kind to us Westerners.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:18
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I do what they do Mar 21, 2015

If a client addresses me as "Dear Mrs Forbes" I reply in the same way - "Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Surname". If they address me as "Dear Jenny", I reply "Dear First name".
I did have one client whose first name was Fola and for weeks I thought she was female - it wasn't until I happened on a photograph of Fola on a website that I discovered she was a he. It didn't make any difference to the way I addressed him/her though!
It's the same as in a recent poll about the language people use to clients (target language or source language). I use the language they use. It seems to me a matter of courtesy.


[Edited at 2015-03-21 17:45 GMT]


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