When to Eliminate Overkill With Saying Thank You

There are times when we probably do overkill on saying thank you a little too much.

Take, for example, Brian Crane’s daily Pickles comic strip which depicts a retired couple in their seventies. Earl and Opal Pickles, the main characters in the cartoon, reveal a social phenomena I’ve observed in the workplace as well as at home regarding receiving Thank You’s.

This particular comic strip, which I saw on the plane coming home from vacation, shows Earl coming over to Opal sitting at a table where she’s writing a note.

Earl: “What are you writing, Opal?”

Opal: “A Thank You note.”

Earl: “Who are you thanking?”

Opal: “My cousin Lynda.”

Earl: “What are you thanking her for?”

Opal: “For the nice thank you note she sent me.”

As I said, I’ve seen this and probably done it myself sometime along the way.

Dealing with Emailed or Texted Thanks

I think it is more important to acknowledge electronic, texted or emailed thank you’s right away. We live in an instant communication world so replying to an emailed thanks does two things: (1) confirms you’ve received it, and (2) to give very specific feedback on what you were thanked for.

To be encouragers of recognition giving requires you to identify the meaningful words and actions a person uses to express thanks to you. By acknowledging a person’s thanks without doing the trite, “Thank you for the thank you” – will be felt and help a person to do the same action again.

You don’t have to say thanks but acknowledge their effort and the message sent.

Also, if you meet up with the sender, in any form, make sure to acknowledge the recognition they just sent you.

After Receiving the Rare Thank You Card

Naturally, I do not agree with Opal’s reaction in the cartoon dialogue above. There’s no need to write a Thank You card response to a Thank You card received.

However, should you have a face-to-face encounter, a meeting or telephone conversation with the person you sent a Thank You card to, make sure you say something to express your appreciation to them a second time.

I had one recognition moment shared with me by a manufacturing employee who received a thank you note from their supervisor for some positive action performed. Later on in the day the supervisor saw the employee on the shop floor but never said a word about their actions.

The employee told me how they originally felt the thank you card was so meaningful. But after the lost acknowledgment opportunity on the shop floor they felt the lack of follow through now made the card and intended thoughts seem meaningless.

Next time you see or speak with the sender tell them how much their note meant to you.

Okay, What About The Verbal Thank You?

Here’s the irony. When you receive praise, recognition or thanks in person there is a frequent tendency to discount and negate the words being expressed to you.

You know the lines.

“Oh, it was nothing.”

“I was just doing my job.”

Or the nonverbals of looking down, or awkwardly turning your foot into the carpet.

This is when you boldly say, “Thank You.”

Accept it. Soak it up. Acknowledge it.

And after you say, “Thank You!” – zip the lips!

Don’t downplay the recognition just given to you. Doing so might stop the person from giving recognition to others.

Simple Rule of Thumb

The closer the proximity of giver to receiver of the expression of thanks plus the speed of delivery requires an acknowledgment.

  1. Face-to- face: You’re both right there; words were immediately spoken. Acknowledge right away.
  1. Email to Inbox: You’re not together; words were pretty immediate in text. Send an acknowledging response.
  1. Card to mailbox: You’re not together; words took longer to get to you while handwritten. Thank them next time you see them or speak with them.

Acknowledging does not mean you always have to say Thank You for the Thank You.

Question: Where and when have you seen an over use of communicating Thank You?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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