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Diatribe: Emails That Say Nothing But “Thank You” Are A Waste Of Space And Time.

08/11/2012

My nieces are the Queens of the Thank You Notes.  I’m so proud of them (and their parents) because I know how difficult it can be to get a child to sit still long enough to write a note, address an envelope and get it into the mail.  Since they were very small, this bit of manners has been, to them, simply a fact of life.  It’s “something you’re supposed to do”.  Unfortunately, it seems that  letter writing is quickly becoming a lost art and that Thank You notes are also becoming a quaint article for the history books.

Except when it comes to email.  Personally, I believe that, by the time I die, I will have spent approximately two days of my lifetime opening emails that say nothing but “Thank You”.  In Boxes and servers around the world are using untold amounts of computer memory to save messages that say nothing but “Thank you”.

Back when email first came about, I was taught to treat it just as I would paper and an envelope.  “If you wouldn’t pay to put a stamp on it, you shouldn’t sent it” was a mantra at the office.  As time passed and email because more accessible, easier to use and the most efficient way for individuals to communicate, the rules changed.  Chain letters were created and emailed to dozens of addresses at once at no real charge to the sender.  We eventually learned how to deal with SPAM but we still can’t avoid emails that say nothing but “Thank you”.

I still send Thank You notes through the mail when I think they’re warranted.  But I don’t send emails that say nothing but “Thank you”.  I figure, in a business environment, that should gratitude should be implied or else a longer message is in order.

I hope my nieces and others who enjoy letter-writing continue to sit with pen and ink to hand-write notes and letters to loved ones.  It’s truly heartwarming to receive a hand-written note of appreciation or just to say hello.  When someone takes the time and energy to specifically set to this task with you in mind it can be quite meaningful.

But, I find that an email that says nothing but “Thank you” comes across as insincere and, particularly at the office, is a waste of time.

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3 Comments
  1. This didn’t fit in your poll, but my office has a procedure for those short, often stupid emails. We put NNTO in the subject line followed by the brief message. (NNTO: Thanks for taking care of that.) That way you don’t have to take the time to open it and see. (I keep my reader function on so I don’t have to open an email to see it.) But sometimes acknowledgement is important so that you know someone’s gotten your message and your task. If I send an email to a staff member with a task, I want to be sure they’ve gotten it and will do it. So many emails get “lost.”

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  2. I have actually never received an email that said just “Thank you.” They’re always accompanied by a note of some kind. Do people really that??

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