THE ONLY BLACK GUY IN THE OFFICE

Please Stop Sending Me ‘I Hope You’re Well’ Emails — I’m Not

Most of us aren’t. Here are some 2020-appropriate alternative greetings.

The Only Black Guy In the Office
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readSep 14, 2020

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Illustration: Michael Kennedy

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.

Is anybody well in 2020? I doubt it.

I know I’m not, and my colleagues inside and outside of my company probably aren’t either. For example, for everyone living on the West Coast, outside looks like Mars. Meanwhile, inside, there’s the usual news about Covid-19, more Black people being shot by the police, and the volatile protests in response — it’s a constant loop of depression. Everything is raggedy, and I’m only using that word because it makes me laugh. I need all the laughs I can get these days.

So why do we insist on fixing our fingers to type “I hope you’re well” when we reach out to colleagues? I’ve asked myself this question since March. “I hope you’re well” is not the best we can do in the end times. Or is it?

The answer is no. It’s a hollow nicety we write because we don’t want the person receiving the email to think we’re rude — it’s like saying “please” before we ask a person for money they owe us.

If I could be the chief etiquette officer, I’d encourage everyone to maintain the decorum of the opening email greeting. But instead of everyone acting like 2020 isn’t 2020, I’d encourage people to greet others with honesty and use what renowned career coach Kim Scott refers to as “radical candor,” a style of communication that is direct, albeit empathetic.

“I hope you’re well” is not the best we can do in the end times. Or is it?

Below is a list of email greetings buried deep in the depths of my drafts folder. I hope one day I have the temerity to keep it this real and push send.

I hope this email finds you well because I’ve been taking L’s all day, and I just need one of us to win.

I hope this email finds you well. If it does, then you should have no problem getting right back to me.

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The Only Black Guy In the Office
LEVEL
Writer for

Do you know him? Is it you? The trials and tribulations of a Black man navigating corporate life.