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Do I Have to Reply to Thank You Emails?

Email Etiquette and Thank You Emails

This is one of the topmost asked-about topics. I get asked quite a bit, particularly after the holidays and then on and off throughout the year.

You send an email, and shortly thereafter, you get a response: “Thank you!”. Do you respond? Do you have to respond? Depends on the relationship and your reason for responding.

I am a huge proponent of taking the time to say “Thank you!” Certainly, if someone has replied to an email request or has done something nice for you online (processed your order quickly, replied promptly to a customer service request, took the time to respond to your questions), then a quick thank you would be nice. And appreciated.

Some find thank you emails annoying. “Why send me an email with just a thank you? Seems unnecessary. ” Hmmm, because they are grateful? Seems like a valid reason to me. Personally, I am never ungrateful for those who take the time to show gratitude.

Why do some struggle with the process of thanking and being thanked? I’m really not sure. Based on the emails sent to me here at NetManners.com and over at BusinessEmailEtiquette.com, I can tell you that folks are uncomfortable with the thanking gig.

Being NetManners is about “everyday email etiquette,” that’s the point of view we’ll discuss here today.

Do you thank someone for sending you a thank you email?

How much back and forth is required before safely assuming everyone has been thanked and welcomed enough? There is a point in every communication where replying is not constructive or has no value other than repeating the obvious.

I get thanked all the time by kind folks who ask for my advice. I don’t respond with a “You’re Welcome” unless the Sender’s thank you email included either additional questions or comments that I feel I can add to the conversation by replying.

Email is very much about reflecting your personality in how you choose to communicate. Some folks are more chatty and friendly than others.

Then some are too curt and to the point and come off as terse or demanding. But, boy, wouldn’t a thank you or “you’re welcome” soften their communication style.

Whatever your style, it will reflect on what you will be like to communicate with. Thank yous are a simple common courtesy that is most definitely worth taking the time to type those 9 little letters.

Thank Yous are Time Well Spent

Especially now, with everyone’s schedules and lives upturned, there is a lot more thanking going on. And for a good reason. I see folks going above and beyond all day. They deserve thank yous so that they know their efforts are appreciated.

In those types of back and forth, it’s not uncommon to receive a reply to your thank you. “No problem, don’t hesitate to let me know if I can be of further help!”. People know we are in trying times, and they are making extra efforts to ensure that folks know they are there if they need them.

Do you thank them for the thank you? Do you have to respond?

Here are some things to think about when receiving a thank you email and whether you should or have to respond:

  • No response is necessary unless a question soliciting a response is in the thank you. Accept the thank you with a smile.
  • Unless you want to use the thank you email as a segue into continuing the conversation — no need to respond.
  • Unless there was a specific comment in the thank you email that you wanted to respond to — again no reply is necessary.

Responding purely because you “have to” won’t be sincere. Your tone will most likely be disingenuous, and you risk being misinterpreted by the other side.

Remember that email is about personality and growing relationships. So if you are grateful, or want to continue the conversation, hit that reply button and enjoy the conversation. Gratitude is an attitude!

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