In an age of perceived entitlement, saying “thank you” graciously seems to be on the back burner. We live in an era of increasingly demanding customers, coworkers, and clients. We believe that we deserve to get what we want, when we want it. And to a certain extent, that’s fine—as long as this attitude doesn’t diminish our sense of gratitude when we should express thanks to those who are generous to us or serve us in any way.
Saying thank you can take time and effort, and we’ve all probably had lapses in expressing gratitude. Sometimes we might even question whether a “thank you” is really necessary. Occasionally, it’s hard to know just what response is appropriate.
Here are a few gratitude dos and don’ts to consider when expressing thanks in public, professional, or personal situations.
How to Express Your Gratitude
The issue is not so much the form that the thank you takes as the spirit behind it. Of course, certain guidelines apply.
Some situations demand a formal note; other times, a telephone call or an e-mail is sufficient. And a face to-face thank you, where you support your words with strong vocalics, pitch, pace, and positive affirming body language, can be the most powerful of all.
A caution for emailing ‘thanks’
Today, e-mail and voice mail are acceptable vehicles for thanking people, particularly for business-related intangibles such as covering for you at a meeting or referring a new client to you. Just remember that e-mail, for all its efficiency and relative informality, is still written communication.
Make sure that you take the same pains with your e-mail thank you as you would with a note written on fine stationery to make it thoughtful and sincere. Remember also that e-mail is never truly private. Keep the tone and content professional.