Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Acknowledgement

Let me ask you two simple questions:

  1. When somebody pays you a compliment, do you thank them?
  2. If somebody sends you a gift, do you send a thank-you note? Thank-you phone call? Thank-you e-mail?

Chances are, if your mother raised you well, your answer to these two questions was, “Yes.” Because the whole point is that when somebody does or says something nice, you acknowledge your appreciation, even if it’s simply with a gracious smile.

j0321185.jpgBut, what about when you get an unsolicited e-mail? Do you answer it? Do you acknowledge it? I don’t so much mean the spam, or the “I can make you a million dollars” business offers. Junk mail is a whole, separate animal. But what about a friendly e-mail from a stranger? Or an e-mail from a friend? A letter in the mail? (Remember those?) Do you reply?

By rights, the answer should again be, “Yes.” It’s a courteous gesture, an acknowledgement that another human made an effort to make contact. It’s true, it’s a busy, hectic world and it’s not necessarily possible (or desirable) to respond to every e-mail that shows up in your inbox. If I were to send an e-mail out of the blue to an A-list blogger who doesn’t know me from Eve, I wouldn’t really expect a personal answer (though I’d be thrilled to get one), any more than I’d expect to get a phone call from Julia Roberts if I sent her a friendly fan letter. (I’m sure that her mother taught her to be polite, too, but she only has so much time. To elicit an actual phone call, that would have to be some letter!)

Among family, friends, and acquaintances, though, it seems to me that the “Say Thank You” rule is as important as ever. If not more. We ARE all busy, crazed maniacs trying to keep all our balls in the air, and while it’s not possible to respond to everything, the polite, human-interaction thing is more important than ever. If you spend most of your time sitting on the far side of a computer monitor and keyboard from most of the people you interact with, your personal interactions become more important. Because they are exactly that–personal.

Human-to-human, even with a computer filter, is priceless interaction to a social species such as ourselves. I mean, sure, some people are annoying, but a lot of them are darn nice to be around. And, really, doesn’t it behoove us all to encourage as many of the nice ones as possible?

6 Comments on “Acknowledgement”

  1. Gillian

    I’m not so good at sending the note, but apart from that, I’m very thorough at saying thank you. One of the bees in my bonnet is to see people run for the bus, the driver waits and then they get on without even a nod to the driver. (At least that’s how it appears to me as I walk the dogs and see them running.) The driver isn’t obliged to wait, so it behooves them to show appreciation. Yes, thank yous and the other little courtesies that grease the wheels are very valuable. (IMNPHO)


  2. I say thank you to the compliments. I send thank you cards usually hand made ones (either that I’ve made or I’ve bought from another artist) with handwritten notes inside. I also respond to the obvious non-spam emails. Happy blogging.

  3. --Deb

    Personally, if somebody hands me a gift and I say thank you there (after opening it, of course!), I will usually consider that to be sufficient, but if I get a gift in the mail or get one that I don’t open until after the giver has left? Absolutely that gets a thank you–an e-mail or a phone call at the very least. I can’t think of the number of times I’ve sent gifts to friends and then spent the next several weeks wondering if they’d safely arrived because I hadn’t heard anything. I can’t tell you how much that bugs me (grin).


  4. I do try to acknowledge all real e-mails that I get, but I’m sure that I’ve accidentally deleted a few with the spam. (I get way too much spam…)

    Laura’s last blog post..Web Content Thursdays: How Do You Feel About Incoming Links


  5. These are all good points. I always try to say thank you, though I’ve never been big on thank you cards. I find that a verbal “thank you” or a phone call will do nicely.

    As for the e-mails… well it depends. I try to answer all of them, but I think a few slip through every now and then.

  6. --Deb

    I think it depends–some things warrant an extra thank you, whether it’s by phone or by mail. I’ve been known to send “just because” gifts to friends and then never hear anything at all, which drives me absolutely bonkers. A formal thank you note is not necessary, but an acknowledgment that UPS didn’t lose it would be nice…. And some gifts warrant more of an effort, too . . . if somebody gives you $1,000,000, or a diamond necklace or a house, I would say it’s definitely required to be as generous in your thank yous. (grin) In fact, that’s probably a good rule of thumb . . . to proportion your thanks to the “value” of the gift. A ride home on a sleety, rainy, bitterly cold day is worth more than the same ride home on a beautiful, sunny spring day!