Q. What is the proper way to say "thank you" versus just "thanks" with an exclamation mark at the end, which by the way comes across as rude to me. Am I too old fashioned?
S. T., Anaheim, CA
A. It’s not so much a matter of being “old fashioned” as it is a sensitivity to recognizing that “thanks,” while it can be very sincere, is a very casual way of expressing appreciation. Therefore, “thanks” should be used in a more informal setting with people who are your peers or close to you. For instance, if you’re writing an email to a colleague or friend and ask for some information or make a simple request, “thanks” would be an appropriate close. Alternatively, if you are making a request of a person higher up at your place of business or a prospect or client, then ‘thank you” would be both more formal and appropriate.
Q. At work, is it proper for my department to send a thank you card to another department which has provided lunch as a thank you (to my department) for helping them meet their revenue goals?
A. D., Fruitland Park, FL
A. It is always appropriate to thank someone for a kindness even when that kindness is an expression of thanks itself. The other department went above and beyond simply saying “thank you” by hosting a “thank you” lunch for your department. Acknowledging that effort with a thank you card would be a very nice gesture and not at all “over the top.”
Q. I have to send a letter to a husband and wife who are both physicians - how do I address the envelope:
Dr. & Dr.
Dr. and Mrs.
A. L., New Bern, NC
A. It would be inappropriate to use “Dr. and Mrs.” because it diminishes the achievement of the woman physician. If they have the same last name, the correct form would be either “The Drs. Harris” or “Drs. Sonya and Jeremy Harris.” If the woman has kept her maiden name, then it would be “Dr. Sonya Jones and Dr. Jeremy Harris.”
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
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