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Eilonwy 06-12-2013 04:20 PM

Email Etiquette: Responding to "I hope you are well"
When someone politely writes "I hope you are well" in an email, what is the proper response? I have two different levels of formality in mind:

1) Formal: We use each other's last names.

2) Semi-formal: I use their last name, they use my first name. Eg, a supervisor at an office job, or a professor I don't know very well.

Also, are there different responses for different variations of "I hope you are well"? For example, does "I hope this finds you well" require a different response?


mad scientist 06-12-2013 05:01 PM

In both those scenarios I usually start my reply with "Thank you for your email".

I guess I ignore the question about my state of well-being.

So now I'm also curious what others do.

Curlyminx 06-12-2013 05:43 PM

I'd also reply something along the lines of "thank you for the email." And depending on the relationship, I'm not sure if I'd address the "I hope you are well". If it were a professor or former employer/supervisor, I'd probably say something that I was doing (either academically or professionally), ie - I have one last year left to my doctorate and so I've been busy; or I just finished two trials so thankfully I have a moment to respond.

If it some other formal situation, I would craft a response to the way that I know that person.

If I thought that they didn't care or if they are so far removed from me that them knowing anything is out of the ordinary, I would just ignore the question.

Po 06-12-2013 06:41 PM

If it's within my agency, I'd answer the question because we're all pretty close and depending on the relationship, I might go more into depth than a general "I'm doing pretty well." Unless it's an email that is important/formal and has the potential to be forwarded to others. And the only emails that are sent that are that important are policy emails, but those are single emails not chains.

If it's in a communication to another organization, it depends on the content of the email and my relationship with the sender. For instance, I recently emailed the director of another shelter. The shelter was recently undergoing some major renovations. I asked how she was holding up with all that in the beginning of the email. I just had a quick question about their services. It wasn't super important.

My work is very informal so I can't think of an instance where someone wouldn't just say "I'm well. Thanks for asking" or something like that.

Fifi.G 06-12-2013 09:42 PM

Formal, professional, semi-casual to informal... If someone says "I hope you are well", I will respond. The only thing that would vary, depending on formality/closeness would be the amount of detail I go into. Anything in 1-3 above would probably get "I am very well, thank you. I hope you are too." Personally, I would consider (it/myself) rude if I ignored it.

Informal would get the low down.

Starmie 06-13-2013 01:51 AM

I'm like mad scientist and tend to just ignore it. I write it in emails to friends regularly and don't actually expect a response, it's just a politeness to ask as far as I'm concerned..

Who Me? 06-13-2013 05:09 AM

I take it as just an email formality. It's simply an opening, just like its a formality to respond "thank you for your email".

Also, it's a statement, not a question. So I don't "answer" the statement. If its phrased Asa question, I will answer in some way.

spiderlashes5000 06-13-2013 08:21 AM

I tend to be informal and I love talking about myself so I will always respond. I don't quite understand the relationship here...a professional colleague? I would respond more or less honestly and assume the person really does want to know...bc I have sent many an email where I haven't inquired or commented as to t he recipient's wellbeing when I wasn't particularly concerned with knowing.

I would say, "I'm great but super busy finishing this grant...I'm doing well today; recovering from a bad cold last week...I'm am thrilled, looking forward to the weekend...I'm doing well and I hope you are, too."

Does the person have some specific reason to be concerned about your wellbeing? Had you mentioned or alluded to something the last time you spoke? If so, it would be rude not to respond IMO.

CurlyCanadian 06-13-2013 04:02 PM

I use "Hope this finds you well", a lot when addressing clients I haven't spoken to in a awhile. I don't expect an answer, unless maybe something big has happened like a baby, engagement, house, etc.

I would read the OPs example as the same, and not answer the question directly. Seems too formal for someone who really wants to know what you're up to!

lucyprimrose 06-13-2013 06:02 PM

I would ignore this. It is a filler sentence, people use it when it doesn't seem quite polite to just launch in to the real topic they're contacting you about. Also, they are not asking 'how are you?' as an actual question.

I would only respond if you need a filler sentence too or if there is a relevant health issue, which you would have possibly mentioned anyway whether they mentioned you being well or not.

That is all if it is a work related or formal email. If it is a friend then you could respond if you want.

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