Communication SkillsSelling Skills

To Say Thank You or Not to say Thank You: The Email Dilemma

The workshop participant sent me a very kind request asking for a copy of my workshop notes. I responded by thanking her for her sweet comments and sending what she requested. Then she sent me a thank you email and added another bit referencing something she and I had talked about during a break (how she gets the curl to look just so in her hair!).

Now, do I send another email to thank her for reminding me about the product she uses in her hair or just let it go? What would you do?

I decided to send a quick email thanking her for the new bit of information. But then…

she sent me a thank you for taking the time to send her a thank you.

This would sound absurd except that I’m betting you’ve experienced this same situation. When is it appropriate to stop the thank you game?

Here are 5 of SpeakerSue’s rules to guide you:

1. It’s not a holiday gift exchange.
You don’t have to go tit for tat saying thank you. When there is something legit to thank the other person for, do it. Sending a thank you for a thank you is a waste of everyone’s time and more than that, causes the type of angst we’re talking about here.

2. Use the subject line.
If it’s really driving you crazy to not say thank you (your momma would be so proud), write it in the subject line and then indicate to your reader that that is all that is new in your message, like this:
Subject line: THANK YOU!

stands for End of Message. An alternate code is which stands for Subject Line Only but I don’t ever use that one because a slip of the key and you’re typing which of course stands for *&^*& out of luck, not exactly what you meant to say.

3.Create an internal company policy:
No email thank you’s needed because you prefer to say a genuine and meaningful thank you to them when you next see them. Of course, this doesn’t work when you work with a virtual team because if you aren’t going to be F2F to thank them, an authentic and quick email thank you is critical to good relationships.

4. Write a proper thank you.
Don’t think that by writing, prior to the person helping you, “Thanks for your help with this” that you have properly thanked them. Gratitude before the fact is simply asking them to do you a favor (or commanding that they do it, depending on your position). A proper thank you is be expressed after the person has taken his or her valuable time to do what you ask.

5. Email is the new paper.
An email thank you, unless you’ve received a personal gift, is fully acceptable today. No one is ever offended by a handwritten thank you note though and it’s always special to receive though not always necessary to do. Standing out for your good manners, however, is always a lovely point of differentiation.

Do you agree with these points? What did I miss? What is your email thank you policy?