With the advent of email and the increasing reliance on this technology, human beings are communicating in person and via phone less often. This disturbing trend not only impacts our interpersonal relationships, but also our business productivity. Although email is a useful tool, problems arise when email is used inappropriately. Just as there is etiquette for face-to-face social situations, there is "netiquette" for communicating virtually using technology.
In February, Wells Fargo/Wachovia hosted an global conference for their international bankers in San Francisco. Ready2ACT was a speaker at this 3 day conference on the topic of Netiquette.
One of the tips we presented was that email users should not send any replies if the entire message is only "Thanks" or "Thank you"--especially to an entire distribution list.
The tip caused some concern. You may reply with "Thanks" believing it's a short, simple way to graciously acknowledge what was sent to you. However, those who receive such a 'Thank you' actually don't need it; it's just a distracting irritation that is quickly deleted. In fact, it actually contributes to generating a large volume of email-especially if someone responds back to your thank-you message!
Further, multiply your 'Thank You' message times five or more per day then factor in all the other people that do it, and it's easy to see why information irritations like these have actually been shown to contribute to information overload, a known cause of depression among those who spend 30 hours or more working on the computer per week.
The best practice is to let electronic message threads die a natural death. However, if you feel compelled to respond, include an explanation for how the information helped you rather than just a simple 'Thanks" (e.g., 'Thanks! You saved me an hour of work!').