I was once nearing the end of a busy day at work and was just about to shut down my computer, when I received an email from a colleague.
We were in different departments, but I considered her my peer, and, up to this point, we had never had a negative exchange.
I clicked on the email, and read: “You really don’t need to say that. I get enough emails as it is—no need to send one more.”
Confused and not remembering what I could have possibly said to offend her, I went back through my recently sent items and saw the last thing I sent.
It was a simple email with two words: “Thank you!”
In her attempt to reduce the number of emails she was receiving in a day, she was trying to reduce what she thought were frivolous messages—specifically, expressions of gratitude.
For weeks after that, I second-guessed every time I was about to email “Thank you” to a colleague. I became conditioned to thinking that such a simple email was actually a burden, rather than a necessary part of building a positive relationship with someone. I even found myself telling others not to bother with “thank you” because “I get enough emails as it is.”