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With thank-you notes, sincerity trumps content

Q. I work in a very small business. To put it into perspective, the owner works Saturdays. I and another woman work Sunday through Friday; that's it. My boss gave me a present for my birthday and for Valentine's Day. Of course I am writing her a thank you note, but regarding it, I had a question. I was wondering if it would be inappropriate to thank my boss also for providing a great working environment? Part of me says yes, part of me says no. I'd like your input, please.

S. Z., Warrensburg, MO

A. If you are making the gesture of thanks because you really believe what you are saying, then the thank-you note is certainly an appropriate moment to express your appreciation to your boss. I think your question leaves no doubt that you believe what you want to express.

The key here is your motivation: you are genuinely thanking your boss and not just trying to suck up to her by using the opportunity to stroke her when you don’t mean it. If you believe it, then the sincerity in the tone of your writing will make your expression of gratitude genuine and appreciated.

Sincerity doesn’t spring from one act, whether in words or deeds. On a daily basis - by the way you do your job, interact with your boss, work with your fellow employee, and treat your customers, prospects or suppliers - you have long since established the sincerity that will make your effort to thank your boss be something you really mean, and she will readily believe.

The essence of sincerity is being genuine. When you are sincere, you are believable and believability is the foundation to building trust in any relationship. Trust is critical to business. People tend to do business with people they trust. While you have that trust, the business relationship is solid, but lose the trust, and the relationship is in jeopardy. That’s why sincerity is so important.

Emily Post once said, “Whenever two people come together and interact, you have etiquette. Etiquette is not some rigid code of manners. It’s simply how people’s lives touch one another.” Emily understood that at its core etiquette is about relationships. When choices we make in our interactions are made sincerely, then the relationship flourishes. However, when actions are couched in duplicity or spring from less than honorable motives, then the relationship may be injured.

Your choice to use your letter to thank her, rooted in a sincere appreciation of the great work environment she fosters, is totally appropriate.

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