When the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips was condemned recently for adding a kiss at the end of an email to a constituent, the ‘incident’ provoked hot debate at ELLE HQ.
When is it appropriate to put kisses in a work situation? Is it polite? Friendly? Or over-familiar?
Team ELLE give their take on a complex social dilemma.
‘I'm never sure what level to go in at so I start of quite formal, but if they 'x' me I 'x' them back.’ - Alice Wignall, content director
‘The age-old dilemma! The 'x' is almost mandatory in the land of fashion. That said, my rule is to only use 'x' with team members or PRs I have a pre-existing friendly rapport with. There's also a school of thought that the 'x' and 'o' is a statement against policing of femininity, an idea I like in theory. But I think that only works for people who work in creative fields like we do.’- Kenya Hunt, fashion features director
‘We all do it, but ideally no one would so that it isn't a thought, a deliberation, or a paranoid afterthought.’ - Viet Tran, designer
‘Oh god, I am forever debating this! I find it really tricky, as my job is essentially chasing people for stuff and trying to get them to meet deadlines or finding out why they haven't met them, so often a 'x' softens the blow! But it really depends on the person and the email in question, e.g: email to the entire production team: no 'x'. Also, never 'x' to a man or someone more senior.’ - Fern Ross, associate editor
‘I tend to do a kiss if it is someone I know well or am asking for a big favour or if they do a kiss first. But honestly I’d much prefer the American way of no kisses/all business otherwise you can get into a terrible chain of having to ALWAYS do a kiss once you've started in case other party thinks you are cross/upset, etc. It highlights the Brits chonic fear of being polite/not offending anyone.’ - Anne-Marie Curtis, fashion director
‘If you're comfortable enough to not begin the email with 'Hey'/'Hi'/'Hello' then it's nice to put an 'x'. If it's an email to someone I know I put an initial x (Lx) otherwise I feel like the email ends too abruptly. Side note: A maximum of 1 exclamation mark per email. Any more reads like a shrill 16 year old.’ - Elizabeth Cooney, senior designer
‘In terms of text messages, that's a slightly different story, I have so many ongoing conversations that I feel like I am never ending them, so I got out of the habit of putting a kiss. But I have plenty of people, including close boy mates, that always put a kiss and they never get one back from me. I sometimes wonder if they think I am being rude, but after getting out of the habit, I now feel ridiculously awkward putting kisses. I don't kiss many people in my day to day life. I am definitely not a hugger and I very rarely do the kiss hello. So it now feels very strange to put one in written form too.’ - Natasha Bird, content editor
‘I'm a lover not a hater, but I follow by example. Most PRs regardless of whether I am friendly with them or not will put a 'x' as part of their email sign off. It's a PR thang. So in turn I reply with the same, for fear that I will look like a cold hearted non-kisses loving b*tch if I don't. But rule of thumb is as follows:
'xxx' only reserved for those of true friendship.
'Xxxxxxxxxxxx' used only for when organising the consumption of alcohol and or carbs and is usually followed by a very uncool 'woo'.
For the office? There are a handful I wont send a 'x' to, not for lack of loving but for fear of firing due to inappropriate office etiquette. Essentially those of Director title.’ - Billie Bhatia, fashion assistant
‘My email etiquette tends to offend people, regularly. So it’s something I have to be very conscious of. My Canadian tone comes off as aggressive. I only end my work e-mails with x to people I know in the UK – never on work emails to people in NYC or LA as they don’t do that there.’ - Lara Ferros, picture editor
‘I always put an x on now I work back in the UK as it feels a necessary softener and would now feel like a rebuke if you left it off. When I was working in New York you would never put an x - it would seem unprofessional to them. I think we have a more conversational approach to emails so therefore you feel the need make the statement at the end as a nice sign off. - Suzanne Sykes, creative director
‘Tricky one! A few factors come into play when deciding, to kiss, or not to kiss:
*For important emails I would never put a kiss.
*It would depend on my relationship with the receiver.
*It would depend if they had put a kiss first!’ - Debbie Morgan, managing editor
‘I always put an x, but now because I send so many emails and I type them so quickly I've started to use it as punctuation. For example,
Dear so and so
I hope you like the May issue, it has your amazing product in it, x
Also, it has this feature in it and I wrote about cats
I don't know why but I can't seem to stop it x’ - Sophie Beresiner, beauty director