We got into a discussion the other day about proper etiquette when it comes to the ubiquitous “thanks” email in the workplace. Put aside the fact that some people hate it, and accept that the “thanks” email needs to be sent as a matter of common courtesy — and also, by the way, to confirm that the prior email has been received and read.
No, the question is: should the email be “Thanks.” or “Thanks!”? How important is it to put that ending exclamation point on your expression of personal gratitude?
Exclamation points are, of course, used to add emphasis, and can express excitement, surprise, astonishment, or other strong sentiments. Interestingly, exclamation points were apparently originally called the “note of admiration” — and admiration seems pretty close to gratitude. Also, the “Thanks.” email comes across as just a little bit flat, doesn’t it? If you’ve asked someone a question or made a request and they’ve provided you with the information or response you want, the least you can do is put a little emphasis on your expression of appreciation. If you then ask a follow-up question and get a follow-up response, you can always go with the “Thanks again.” email on the second go-round.
I do think, however, that we need to guard against overuse of the exclamation point in workplace communications. For example, one exclamation point is perfectly sufficient, and multiple exclamation points should be reserved only for the most extraordinary circumstances. And let’s remember that the exclamation point should be used rarely, and it is the good old period that should be liberally employed. Too many exclamation points make the writer seem breathless and overly excitable.
But none of that should prevent the use of the exclamation point on that initial “Thanks!” email. As in, to all of the readers of this blog: Thanks!