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Thanks but No Thanks

I have been traveling and checking most of my email on my smart phone. The other day it took my phone what seemed to be 20 seconds to download a message. It was probably only 8 to 10 seconds, but it felt longer because of all the email I had to read.

The time-consuming message? Here is all it said: "Thanks, Lynn."

The writer's signature block, including a fancy company logo, caused the slow download.

I usually appreciate people's kind thanks. But that message just felt like a time waster, especially since the person was thanking me for a message in which I had thanked her for some helpful information.

So it may have been intended as sincere thanks, but it felt like no thanks.

Do you feel as I did when you read messages on your phone? Please share your view.

Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

7 comments on “Thanks but No Thanks”

  • Totally agree, Lynn. A plain text email signature is all you need. Add a link to your (well-designed, mobile-friendly, informative) website if you wish to share more about yourself.

  • We should see the intention of a person behind his/her message. But yes, its a good habit one should cultivate to think about the importance and necessity of a message before sending it.

  • Interesting post! I have two comments on this. First of all, email signatures are not necessary for every email in a thread. One signature per thread is sufficient. If your friend had followed this rule, you probably wouldn’t have had this issue.

    Also, I think a large part of the issue here is that our technology is still kind of “catching up” to itself these days, and not all cell phones have the same capabilities. It would probably take an iPhone 4S just a few seconds to download a message like this, while my old Samsung Reality is not even be able to display HTML email signatures. I think this will become less of an issue as time goes on and the technological capabilities of different devices become more comparable.
    Personally, I like a little color or a photo (business-related, of course,) on an email signature. It brightens up my day!

  • I agree that it can be frustrating if messages take too long to download. Nevertheless, I always appreciate a simple “thank you” or “have a nice weekend” to round off the conversation and I often send short emails like that myself.

    I work from home as a freelancer, and very rarely do I have any face-to-face interaction with my clients or colleagues. So those little messages seem extra important in my line of work.

    My own email signature has colored text, but no embedded links or logos. I also try to only include my signature once in a thread as LisaMarie mentioned.

  • Hello, LisaMarie. Thanks for your good point about technology needing to catch up. I also appreciated your reminder that only one signature block is necessary in a thread.

    It is good to remember that we like different things in our communication. When I am traveling, I have an all-business attitude toward my email, since I am on the run and trying to decide which messages require responses. Perhaps I should lighten up and appreciate the color, as you do!

    Thanks for taking the time to write.


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