‘Thanks’ but don’t add to my email overload

Sunday February 3rd, 2013, 10:21 pm

We all like to feel valued when we have either helped someone or done something really well. Many feel that saying thank you encourages better team work and bonding.  A point supported by David Desento’s research. But what is the best way to say thank you? A thank you email is one way and is often the default.  However, how many of those ‘thank you’ emails are really sent with genuine warmth and gratitude?  For those who receive over 50 emails a day, the ‘thank you’ either might be overlooked or worse still just add to feeling of suffering with chronic email and information overload.

In workshops and coaching sessions, when asked what annoys people the most about email,  75% cite ‘thank you’ emails.  Many perceive they are sent without thinking but rather almost as a Pavlovian response which is meaningless and without any feeling of real gratitude. After all if the boss ask for something why would you not do it.

In this age of electronic communications what is the best email etiquette to say thank you and do with feeling?  Drawing on discussions with clients and their experience here are some which work really well without driving up the email overload.

1.  Add a line at the end of the original email to show your gratitude in advance of the response.

2.  If the person has gone the extra mile and done an exceptional job then:


  • Show your gratitude in person next time you see the person (either in words or with a small token of appreciation and the latter

    BomoArt Note Card

    especially if the person has gone the extra mile).


  • Write a short hand-written note.  Several executives with whom I have worked with over the years pride themselves on having a collection of cards in their desk drawer for this purpose.  For the recipient, it feels like a prized award to be pinned to their noticeboard and sought after by others.  For myself, I am lucky as one of my sponsors BomoArt make delightful note cards for such a purpose.

3.  Only if none of the above work, should you ping back a ‘thanks’ email.  But make sure it sounds sincere and it stops there.  Don’t be sucked in to a pointless round of email ping-pong if they respond.

Using good email etiquette like this and switching to an alternative medium is also a very good way to improve performance and business relationships whilst at the same time reducing email and information overload.

For more ways like these to save time and enhance productivity ask us about our email best practice training and coaching.


For more time saving tips and hints why not buy a copy of one of our books or let us run a Smart Email Management workshop for you and your colleagues.
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