53

I’m currently in my first full-time job and have been here for a year at a big UK company. Me and a few others from my site recently had the opportunity to attend an event where we were given free seats in a box owned by the director of the company as well as a free meal and free bar.

Given that I hadn’t actually done anything to earn such a reward (I just put my name down as interested) and the fact it probably cost a lot of money, I feel that it would be appropriate to send some sort of thank you email. However, I don’t want to come across as a kiss-ass or clutter the inbox of a busy director if it’s not appropriate.

If it matters, we met the director briefly for a few minutes but I’m not sure if he would remember me anyway.

Should I do this or not?

  • 36
    Not that it's too important, but the cost of the box was probably already sunk anyway. Companies and higher-ups will often keep season tickets or box seats on-hand to take out potential customers and clients. If they end up not being needed, sometimes they will give them out to employees, which could have been the case for you. – David K Aug 24 '15 at 12:06
  • 29
    I wouldn't consider a thank you being a kiss-ass, it's just old fashioned good manners. the director probably won't notice if you don't thank him, but will notice if you do. – DavidB Aug 24 '15 at 14:33
  • 13
    I guess "ass" is technically a more profane word, but I can't be the only person who thinks "brown noser" sounds MORE gross than "kiss ass". – iabw Aug 24 '15 at 19:41
  • 13
    Why does the name of this post keep changing!? I swear, I'm going crazy, or it's changed like three times today. – Dan Aug 24 '15 at 22:05
  • 6
    Obsequious is a great word but outside of literature I've always heard this called "kiss-ass" or "kiss-up" for those who don't want to say ass. – Brandin Aug 24 '15 at 22:43
101

Don't go over the top, but a quick note of thanks wouldn't be kissing ass. Keep it short and simple.

Delete as appropriate:

Dear (Director's name)

I just wanted to say thanks for [sending me to/allowing me attend] [x event] last week. It was a brilliant [day/night/event/weekend] and we all really [enjoyed it/got a lot out of it].

Thanks again,

Adam44 (Or your real name, if you aren't called Adam44)

Don't mention the cost — your director already owns the box, so that cost him nothing and the meal and bar were probably offset against tax anyway so it's probably didn't cost much for the company or him personally. The cost also isn't the point as you aren't thanking him for spending money on you, you're thanking him for the opportunity or a nice event. Keep the focus on the experience, not the value.

  • 3
    @Kevin which bit is the British phrasing? I'm British, so maybe I'm blind to it because of that, but none of it really sounds like something I would associate as being specifically British English. Perhaps the word "brilliant". – Muzer Aug 24 '15 at 14:41
  • 4
    Any British phrasing was entirely unintentional and a result of being British myself, so I can't take credit .... I imagine, though that "got a lot out of it" may be British phrasing, "Brilliant" isn't heavily used in the US, and "Thanks again" may be a fairly British sign-off. "I just wanted to say" might be a bit deferential, too, so that could be. I've no idea how common any of these phrases would be elsewhere :p I'm also not sure whether "Offset against tax" is applicable in the US, as their taxation is different to ours. – Jon Story Aug 24 '15 at 14:43
  • 17
    @Muzer As someone who isn't British, the only thing that really sticks out to me as being British would be the use of 'brilliant' to describe the event, so I would also guess that to be Kevin's main reason. – Warlord 099 Aug 24 '15 at 14:56
  • 3
    @JonStory It was, indeed, the "brilliant" part. – Kevin Aug 24 '15 at 14:58
  • 3
    @Keen - seems a little over-zealous, to be honest. I really doubt anybody is going to see that phrasing as a problem. – Jon Story Aug 24 '15 at 16:20
67

I feel that it would be appropriate to send some sort of thank you email. However, I don’t want to come across as a kiss-ass or clutter the inbox of a busy director if it’s not appropriate.

Should I do this or not?

It's always appropriate to thank someone who did something nice for you. And a simple thank you email is just the right level of thanks in this case.

Something like "I just wanted to send a quick note thanking you for the seats at [the event]. We had a great time and really appreciate it." will come across as appreciative, yet not over the top.

I know when I have been the donor in the past, I always liked to hear that my gift was appreciated by the recipients. And I'm sure that encouraged me to continue giving.

  • 1
    +1 Its hard to be a kiss ass, just by saying "Thank you", so you might as well do it as much as appropriate or you feel like. – Mark Rogers Aug 24 '15 at 14:03
  • 1
    If the OP wants to sound grateful but not excessively subservient, the message should omit any defensive padding: "Thank you for the fantastic seats at [the event]. Everyone had a great time and really appreciates it." – Keen Aug 24 '15 at 16:11
  • @Keen, I would point out that speaking for others is usually inadvisable or inappropriate if you haven't been authorized to do so. I would thank him on your own behalf, but not say that everyone appreciates it, just that you appreciate it. – Dan Aug 24 '15 at 17:40
  • 2
    @Dan Saying "we appreciate it" does not require authorization. In the same way, using a generic term such as "everyone appreciates it" is 100% okay. Just don't identify a specific person if you want to avoid inappropriately speaking for others. – Brandin Aug 24 '15 at 18:00
21

One more thing: chances are the director's inbox is handled by their PA, whose job is to filter out things the director doesn't need to see.

If the PA thinks the director will appreciate the thanks, they'll pass it on. If not, they won't, and no harm is done. So, chances are the director will only see your message if the person who knows them best in the organisation thinks they'll be pleased to see it.

The PA will definitely see it, however, and they might remember you as someone courteous. This is no bad thing. In my experience, PAs:

  • Tend to really appreciate good manners (since it's an important part of their job, and because they're often on the receiving end of bad manners from self-important people they have to be nice to)
  • Tend to be remarkably good at remembering who everyone is
  • Tend to be very useful people to know - they sometimes seem to be about the only people in the organisation who truly know how all the organisation's processes work and what is going on at all levels of the organisation
  • Are important to get on well with if you're ambitious, since if you do ever need the director for anything, they'll be the ones making the call as to whether you can be trusted with the director's time

Keep it short and sweet - you don't want to waste the PA's time, either.

A very good tip for emails like this is to include all the main content concisely in the subject line, in such a way that it's obvious from the subject line alone that this is a polite email that doesn't need a response.

All the directors' PAs I've known have really appreciated little things like this. They're usually juggling at least 5 things at once, and it's the difference between seeing an email popup and thinking "Oh, that's nice, I don't need to do anything now but [director] will like that, I'll skim it later and mention it in our 2pm catchup", vs thinking of "Huh, what's this about, I'd better read it... Oh, that wasn't important".

So, for example, a subject line like "Thank you for providing us seats at [event]".

Snappy, simple, and they'll know immediately what (if anything) to do with it.

4

TLDR: A hand-written thank you note shows you are appreciatative and conscientious.


I want to preface this response with that you know your corporate culture better than us. So if you feel like your company would frown on these actions, then you should carefully consider how you will proceed.

That said, I agree with everyone else; however, one option is missing. In the interest of being complete, I recommend a hand-written thank you note. It is almost never inappropriate to give someone a hand-written note when he or she has done something nice for you. More importantly, the note (and it being hand-written) shows that you are appreciative and considerate (speaking as someone who is responsbile for giving away scholarships, I can tell you I always appreciate a hand-written note to an email, and an email to nothing).

I found that the following link has a good template for thank you notes--tailor it to your situation:

http://www.themorningnews.org/article/how-to-write-a-thank-you-note

  • 1
    Nobody wants my notes to be hand-written. If I slow down to the point where I am drawing each character individually, I can usually keep it legible. – keshlam Aug 27 '15 at 4:41
  • To be honest I feel like this really crosses the line into "obsequious" territory. It also risks looking like you've got too much free time... A hand-written note for a personal gift from a friend or relative, yes, or if it was a personally-chosen gift - but implying a close personal relationship like this where there isn't one for me would definitely seem obsequious – user56reinstatemonica8 Aug 31 '15 at 13:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.