I closed my email on the Mac that I shared with my fellow architectural students at Arizona State University. My dad hadn’t written me back again. I started to get up from the desk, but then I sat back down. I had written him four emails and no reply. I was pissed. Granted it was 1994, so email was a new phenomenon, but I was 2,000 miles from home for the first time in my life, and I was a tiny bit (OK a lot) homesick. I sent him the following email. “Dear Dad, if you do not respond to this email, I will never write you again. Love Amy.” Of course he answered and has never missed answering an email since then. Over the next few years, I relaxed a bit and didn’t expect an email reply unless I needed a question answered.
Fast forward to 2007. I worked at an A/E firm and noticed that my client, an architectural PM in the firm unfailingly would respond to every email I sent, even if it was a just a “Thanks Amy. ” I remember it because it was rare to get an email that just said “Thank you,” and I liked that the two simple words made me feel appreciated. And I liked that I knew he received the email.
Years later, I was in an environment where a key stakeholder on my projects never responded to my emails. I gave her a break because I knew that she must receive hundreds of emails a week. But still, I didn’t like not knowing if she didn’t receive it, if she didn’t agree with what I said, or if she felt the information I gave her was wrong. I just didn’t like not knowing.
Fast-forward to today and the roles are reversed. I’m now the client and I receive hundreds of emails a week. Like most people, I’m pressed for time and I’m trying to keep my inbox clean by responding quickly to requests, flagging email for a later longer reply, or filing information that my consultants send me. I’m so focused on getting through my inbox that I realized that I’m not replying with appreciation to my emails. I’m not responding with a simple “Thank You” or even an “OK.”
Now I’ve tried to rationalize my behavior. I’ve seen the inboxes of some of the people that I work with. Their inboxes contain 18,000 unread emails, so I think, do I really want to send an email that fills their inbox with one more email to delete or file? For now, the answer is yes. I want to be like the PM that I worked with in 2007, I want to let people know that I appreciate the work that they are doing on our campus. It is a pretty simple no-brainer way to show gratitude.
What do you think? Do you like receiving an email that just says “Thank you” or “OK” and do you send those types of emails?