Should I send a "thank you" email to every professional connection -- in office and out -- if he or she sends me something I request?

Even if it's someone I know is inundated with emails?

Even if I am fairly certain this person does not want single word emails hitting his or her inbox?

Sometimes is it OK to just let an emailed asset or attachment go unanswered?


3 Answers 3


Do you appreciate what they did? Do you want them to know that?

A personal thanks, next time you pass their office/desk or see them getting a coffee is always more effective than an email, especially for the kind of person you're describing. It lets them know that your appreciation goes beyond five seconds after you received the item you requested.

If, on the other hand, it wasn't anything that important (which I usually judge by "am I going to remember next time I see them?") and you're just mailing to be polite then I've never seen anything bad happen as a result of a quick "thanks" email.

However, if you don't respond then, at the very least, you've left a busy person not knowing whether you've received something they intended you to. That's way more time consuming than passing over your acknowledgement.

At worst, they want you to appreciate what they've done and you haven't shown that. Then you've caused offence, which never ends well for you.

So yeah, just send it, unless you want to go further and add a personal touch.


Don't feel that you have to reply to everyone, even if thanks or you may find yourself in thank you feedback loops that go on for eternity. Even without a response people usually consider an email to be received and eventually read unless they get a bounce back email. Initially a lot of email usage included BCC's and auto-replies but these have fallen out of favor as electronic communication moves closer to resembling regular human interaction where some say thanks and some don't.

When to send:

  • the person seemed to make an extra effort
  • the person did something that was not work related or work required.
  • you want to make or improve the person's impression of you.
  • the company culture values such communications.
  • the receiver has been profuse with praise for you in the past.

When not to send:

  • the item is part of the work anyway
  • no extra special effort was involved
  • the person doesn't like such one-liners
  • it's about a sensitive or offensive topic, best discussed in person.

I generally only thank people if I'm already emailing them as an acknowledgement.

Sending a single word email is annoying and meaningless. If you feel inclined to send a thank you, be expressive:

  • "Thank you for the fast turn-around time on this"
  • "Thank you, this is exactly what i wanted".
  • "Thank you for finding the time, I know you're getting swamped with project A".

Spending a few extra seconds and contextualizing why you appreciate their efforts goes a long way. If after contextualizing, it sounds excessive, you probably shouldn't be sending it.

Also, the worst thing you can say is thx.

thx is another way of saying: "I care so little about the effort or time you put in that you can have exactly three non-specific characters to show my appreciation."

"Thanks" is not far behind.

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