How Much Thanks Is Too Much Thanks?

Recently, we were discussing whether you could go overboard with thanking someone…

Jaya: Okay so the question is, is there ever a time where a thank you note is not appropriate or too much?
We’re always harping on how thank you notes are so great, but they do have a tendency to be Very Official and that can be weird for certain things

 

Victoria: That’s true. I think thank you notes can be weird for monumental gifts and services…like, they are so small in comparison, that they seem silly? Although, I guess, when my grandmother sent me my inheritance early, I think I sent a note but also called her (for me, calling her is a supreme gesture since we just…don’t talk on the phone).

 

Jaya: That’s a good point! Yeah, I think with large, generous gestures, especially with family, a phone call or in person thank you seems more meaningful. Like, I sent thank you notes to people who got me bowls for my wedding. This should be different than that.

 

Victoria: Haha yeah, exactly. And like, even aside from money gifts, like say someone came and stayed with you when you were sick for a period of time, or something. like…a thank you note is just not enough. And really, you aren’t GOING to be able to even really thank them in a way that is meaningful enough for what you received from them. Other than to sincerely thank them when it is occurring and hopefully be willing to do something similar for them.

 

 

Jaya: Right. I think that’s key, that this is all in service of conveying a deep emotion, which is a hard thing to make tangible. But to me, someone looking into my eyes and thanking me for something is always going to FEEL nicer than a note.
Victoria: Exactly. I like notes for wedding presents and stuff because it feels very formal for a formal exchange. But its very rote.

 

Jaya: Though, you bring up that nothing will ever be enough, which brings me to another pet peeve–people who will not stop thanking.

 

Victoria: Ughhh yeah, it’s very embarrassing.

 

Jaya: It seems like they understand that a note or a phone call is not enough, but try to make up for that by bringing it up all the time.

 

Victoria: Just be cool everyone.

 

Jaya: hahahaha

 

Victoria: No, I am serious though. It’s the same with taking compliments.

 

Jaya: Yes!

 

Victoria: Really and seriously try to bite your tongue and just say thank you the once.

 

Jaya: I mean, if anything, it just unnecessarily raises the bar. Then it makes people who only get one thank you from someone feel like that is somehow inadequate or in-genuine.

 

Victoria: That’s true.

 

Jaya: And also, I think it’s almost like saying “I’m sorry.” You’re not doing this to come off as a good person, you’re doing this to convey a specific feeling for the benefit of someone else. So just like, be sincere in your thanks and you won’t have to do it more than once.

 

Victoria: Agreed. Although, I think it can come up naturally sometimes- like with the Hamilton thing (ED: Jaya chipped in with a ton of people for Hamilton tickets for Victoria’s birthday), yeah, I thanked you guys at the time (and tried to thank everyone individually, in person) but then also specifically mentioned it when posting about it when it happened, and a few times when mentioning it to other people. But that feels organic, I guess?

 

Jaya: Oh totally. I’m not saying it has to be a hard and fast rule of ONE THANK YOU AND THAT’S IT. I think you nailed it, when it feels organic that’s fine. Instead of it coming out of an anxiety that you haven’t done enough.

 

Victoria: Haha yeah. I mean, I think the giver can feel the difference between joy and anxiety? Hence the be cool thing. When in doubt, say thank you once.

 

Jaya: Probably. Nobody is as smooth as they think they are, so if they send a note and call and bring it up twice in person, the giver is probably like “okay but you can chill now.”

 

Victoria: Hahaha I am smooth. But yeah, agreed.

 

Jaya: Well of course YOU’RE smooth. We’re talking about people without an extensive glove collection here.

 

Victoria: I am available for lessons for the low low price of $50 an hour, LOL.

 

Jaya: hahahahaha. Lessons on how to own gloves and thank people effectively, call Victoria.
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Inviting Parts of a Group to the Rehearsal Dinner

Soon your rehearsal dinner is gonna look like this.

Soon your rehearsal dinner is gonna look like this.

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

For the rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding, we are planning inviting all our out-of-town guests. However, I have a large group of friends who I met while we all lived in the wedding location. Some of these friends have since moved away from the wedding location while some still live there. Is it okay to only invite the ones who now live out of town to the rehearsal and exclude the ones who still live in town, though they are part of the same set of friends?

Sincerely,

Not Wanting to Exclude

Official Etiquette

Officially, you don’t HAVE to have a rehearsal dinner and even if you do, traditionally you only have to invite your bridal party and immediate family. It is a nice gesture to invite out of town guests and it’s fine to draw clear lines if you can’t afford to host everyone.

Our Take

Jaya: My idea is that everyone can understand setting a hard line between people who had to travel and people in town. This isn’t a “we liked these 5 people more so we invited them” situation.

Victoria: Exactly. Although, I will bring up the point that if we are talking about 10 people out of town and 1 person in town….maybe at that point just bite the bullet and invite all of them. But if its a fairly even split, then yeah, people will understand. I am interested to know when this whole “invite the out of town people” thing started. And at what point it gets ridiculous. Like if 3/4 of your wedding list is at the rehearsal dinner….

Jaya: Yeahhhh, I mean, I think it has decent intentions. If people have traveled you want to make them feel welcome.

Victoria: Totally!

Jaya: And then I think it went to “all out of town family” which again, reasonable. And then all out of town everyone.

Victoria: Haha yeah, I think so. My cousin got married in…..like 2008? And did not invite out of town family to the rehearsal and we were fine. I think maybe we arrived the morning of the wedding anyway. We will see if that holds true at our next family wedding this fall.

Jaya: Yeah, I also think it depends on where it is. Like, if you’re getting married in the middle of nowhere and there’s nothing to do, it’s nice to offer a fun dinner instead of your guests sitting around ordering room service in your weird suburban home town.

Victoria: Yesss!!! That’s a very good point.

Jaya: But sometimes I’ve gone to weddings in fun destination places and it’s like, quit it with the events, I want to explore! That’s a sad thing to measure, though. “Is your wedding destination boring as hell? If so, entertain people.”

Victoria: HAHAHA. I mean, you could just be practical about it….like, okay, our hotels are actually miles from any food and people didn’t bring cars, so let’s entertain them vs. we are downtown in a big, cultural city, people will be fine.

Jaya: Right.

Victoria: Or like, we decided to make everyone camp in the middle of the woods for four days so we are providing ALL the meals.

Separate Thank You Notes for a Joint Gift

[Via Emily Orpin]

[Via Emily Orpin]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

If a mother and daughter gave me a joint gift for my wedding shower, do I need to send them separate thank you notes? They live at different addresses.

Sincerely,

Splitting My Thanks

Official Etiquette

In this situation, you would send separate thank you notes. The exception is a large group gift, such as a work team chipping in on something, you can write one note and send it to the main organizer to pass around.

Our Take

Jaya: Do you need to write a thank you for both of them?

Victoria: Yep! That was easy!

Jaya: I think so too.

Victoria: Yay, we agree!

Jaya: With the caveat that, if the daughter is like in college and likely just threw her name on the card (like I did and still do too often), a card to just the mom will probably be fine.

Victoria: Just like, if you are inviting a family of parents and kids but the kids are grown up and live on their own, they also need their own invitation.

Jaya: That’s a good rubric! If you sent separate invites, send separate thank you notes. Which made sense cause like, in college, invites to things like that got sent to my parents house.

Victoria: Oooh yessss, that is a good summation of my point!

Jaya: Yeah. God why are thank you notes so involved?

Victoria: Haha I mean, you could just send them for everything and not worry about it.

Jaya: Side note: handwritten notes are oppressive when you’ve injured yourself and can’t actually handwrite (ED: Jaya recently shaved the tip of her thumb off using a mandolin. Stay away from mandolins!). Stop being so ableist, handwritten notes.

Victoria: LOL, yes, well, I think people will understand in that case and also then your husband or partner should write them (which they should be doing anyway.)

Jaya: what if he’s come down with a terrible case of having illegible handwriting?

Victoria: Raise your sons to have good handwriting! Don’t let women to continue to carry the full burden of emotional labor!

Separate Thank You Notes for Shower and Wedding Gifts?

If I had infinite dollars, I would only buy fancy stationery.

If I had infinite dollars, I would only buy fancy stationery.

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

Do I need to write two thank you notes if a person gave me both a shower gift and a wedding gift? What if they arrived very closely together?

Sincerely,

Doubly Thankful

Official Etiquette

Separate events, separate gifts and separate thank you notes.

Our Take

Jaya: So do you need to write two separate thank yous?

Victoria: Yep. That was easy!

Jaya: Really? I think if you’ve already received both gifts you can put them on the same note.

Victoria: Hmmm, I supppppose.

Jaya: Unless one is explicitly for the bride and one is explicitly for the couple.

Victoria: Which, technically the shower implies (Ed: Traditionally shower gifts are specifically for the bride alone). But these days its not so much.

Jaya: But if you got a towel set at the shower and a toaster in the mail a week later why shouldn’t that be both in one note?

Victoria; Haha yeah. Thats a good point. Just semantics, I guess. Two events, two notes. Like people who have birthdays close to Christmas- it’s nice to have the division.

Jaya: Right. it’s whether you see it as two events or like, all tied to one big event.

Victoria: Yeah, I mean, to an extent often, the shower is just the women, so if the woman was part of a couple, you’d be thanking her both for the gift and attending the shower. And then thanking the couple for the wedding gift.

Jaya: Umm single people give gifts too, Victoria. Jeez.

Victoria: As a single person, I know they do, lol.

Jaya: Nah I bet you’re rude and never give gifts.

Victoria: I mean, I would probably still send two, but you are also probably fine with one. I might also posssssibly change my mind depending on the age of the gift giver. Younger people probably won’t care as much as older people, so if it was like a 60 year old friend of your mom’s….then probably two notes. It’s kind of rude to do that, have different levels of thanking, but I see it more as peacekeeping.

Jaya: Ehhh, hopefully future generations understand that one note with lots of thanks in it is intent enough. That’s not politeness, that’s expected custom.

Victoria: Yeah, true. I would say, in generally, go with your gut!

Jaya: Yeah!

Victoria: If you are afraid that person is going to whine to your mom that you are the RUDEST if you don’t send two notes, send two notes, otherwise, one is probably fine. IF the gifts really did come THAT close together.

Jaya: And then maybe don’t invite them to future things.

Victoria: Haha well, politics and blah blah blah. But once you are married you probably don’t have to worry about another big event

Jaya: Good point.

Professional Email Etiquette

Bad email etiquette was MAYBE excusable in the 90s.

Bad email etiquette was MAYBE excusable in the 90s.

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

Email subjects! AHH! I hate being constantly bombarded with irrelevant, unsearchable subject terms, or emails that veer off the thread and continue. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to search for emails again or prioritize when the subject has no useful search terms and is instead, something like “favor …” Bah! Also, reply-alls, while you’re at it lol.

Sincerely,

Disordered Inbox

 

Official Etiquette:

Everyone agrees! Use a clear subject line that indicates the content of the message. And use reply all only when everyone needs to receive the response.

Our Take:

Victoria: Okay, so subject lines are super important now because email is so searchable, so they need to be something that you can search easily. Like instead of “Invoice Request” it should be something like “Smith Invoice Request”

Jaya: Right. Though I tend to be more lax about this when it comes to personal emails. If I’m sending a friend a funny link I’m not like “Tumblr Humor Harry Potter Video 2015”

Victoria: Oh yeah, this is definitely more of a business email thing.

Jaya: But with invoicing it’s especially good to use your name, since those can get lost so easily. Something descriptive, but also not putting your entire email in the subject.

Victoria: Oh yeah! As a freelancer, I’m sure you come up against this a lot.

I mean, I think it also depends on the importance of the email- is this something that people are going to have to go back and reference or is it a one off that’s going to be deleted as soon as it is read?

Though i guess for some people, it’s probably more useful to get in the habit of just using good subject lines rather than trying to figure out which emails are important.

Jaya: Definitely. It’s too much hassle to try to scale your email on how important it’ll be to the recipient

So if you do it for everything it’ll be much easier.

Victoria: Yep, and even for yourself a lot of the time! But yeah, I think ultimately you just need to avoid stuff like “favor” or “request” that is suuuuper vague. Just up it to “supply order favor” or “vacation request.”

Jaya: And when it comes to reply all, oh boy. Use bcc when you can, and use reply all sparingly

Victoria: Haha yeah, I mean it also depends on company culture. We actually use reply all a LOT, but its for good reasons. And I use BCC for some very specific things. But if you aren’t specifically told to use reply all or BCC on “these types of specific emails”

then definitely decide whether it needs a reply all or not.

Jaya: Right, if everyone’s input really is needed, use reply all. And only reply with your full, thoughtful response, not a bunch of one word answers.

Victoria: And even within that, i think if you are looping people into something, then they probably only need the major details like- this report went out to this client, and then take it out of reply all to hash out the finicky details.

Jaya: Also this probably goes without saying but triple check who you send things to because too often something meant for a specific person goes to reply all.

Victoria: Hahaha yesssss.

Anything else to add?

Jaya: In general, I think pay attention to crafting an email like it were a letter. A lot of people think that because it can be shot off so quickly and easily that you don’t have to pay attention to wording.

But I’ve had so many confusing email interactions because the other person insists on not using complete sentences.

Victoria: Omg me too.

Jaya: And it just makes it more of a hassle for everyone involved.

Victoria: Especially in a business context, its like, omg you need to be clear and maybe err on the side of being a bit formal.

Especially for emails that aren’t interoffice.

Jaya: Yes! Err on formal is good advice.

Victoria: Like, for the first email, I would always start out with a salutation, whether that is Dear… or Hi… and use your signature.

And then the following ones can devolve into just jumping into the body of the message.

Jaya: Yes, no need for salutations past that. Unless you’re emailing with the Queen.

Victoria: Hahaha, as you do.

Jaya: We’ve all done it.

Victoria: Natch