006 One Easy Way to Show Appreciation via Email Response

email-inboxI 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?

14 thoughts on “006 One Easy Way to Show Appreciation via Email Response

  1. I think a simple “thank you” email not only serves as acknowledgement, which I appreciate as well, but it provides a sense of willingness to help and openness. I tend to reach out more to those who respond.


  2. Funny that you would bring this up, as I have recently discussed this very topic. The short answer for me is yes, I think the one word response is good practice and relevant. I’m sure I don’t always do it. The nuanced answer is it depends on why you were the recipient of the message. We’re you the main target for the message or a cc? Was it informational or information seeking. If you were cc’d on a request then I don’t think a response is necessarily required, nor do I think you need to thank someone for doing every single effort/e-mail sent. But If the e-mail is legitamatly sent to you, then we should respond. But please don’t feel the need to post a comment to my comment 🙂


  3. I try to treat emails and texts like CB-radio conversations—e.g., “10-4, good buddy”–providing a reply indicating that any message sent was indeed received. Plus, in my book, you can never say “Thank you” enough! Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in valuing responses 🙂


  4. I’m with you Amy! Just a quick note of acknowledgement so that we’re not guessing if it has been received 🙂 I like ‘thank you’ I’ll use that instead of ‘okay’ now!


  5. “Thank you” is the perfect way to acknowledge receipt….unless a longer answer is required if you are the person the email has sent to. I’d much rather spend the time deleting the response, then wondering if the email was ever received.


  6. Interesting to see how many people like those emails, because I can’t stand those emails. I whole heartedly understand and respect why people like the response, I just don’t. I never wonder whether you got my email or not, because I know you did, and if there was an action item in it, you would complete the task. Or, a follow up email would be needed because you forgot(which could happen even if you responded to my initial email). There are two reasons I dislike those little responses. One, it fills up my inbox, and when I try to do a search to look for an email, they make it more difficult to find the original. Secondly, and more importantly, I am one of those people the will stop what I’m doing to pull up my email to read what was just sent when I hear the email notification, and stopping what I’m doing to read a “Thanks!” is a waste of my time.


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