I’ve always thought the ‘Thanks’ email was useless. That’s the email that someone sends back to you after you’ve sent them something and the only new content is ‘Thanks.’

I’ve thought it was useless because I didn’t think the value of following the social norm outweighed the downside of adding to the recipient’s daily deluge of email. I felt that the social norm in face to face conversation didn’t translate to the medium of email.

But I’ve changed my mind, especially in situations where I’m emailing people that don’t know me really well. I’ve changed my mind because the ‘Thanks’ email provides more value than simply meeting a social norm – it provides a confirmation that I received the information, that the sender is being heard, and that I’m OK with the contents.

That sounds minor but I think it is especially important in any business that lives to serve customers, so I’m going to start sending ‘Thanks’ emails.