my coworkers demand a response to every single email — even thank you’s

A reader writes:

I have a small cultural issue at work that is driving me crazy and takes a not-insignificant amount of bandwidth out of my busy schedule. My workplace is comprised of 70% EU employees, 30% US. We are a mid-sized company with a high volume of work in an industry that bridges the gap, culturally, with another — it is the mid-point between a more formal industry and one that can afford to be a little more casual in its communication.

My colleagues demand closed-loop responses to every single email regardless of responsibility or content, to a point where the formality of it borders on the obsequious. A very common example reads like this:

Colleague writes to me and cc’s two members of my team and two members of their team.
1: Colleague: I have a request for X type of documentation template, can you send it to me? Here are the details.
2: Me: Sure, here’s the prepared document.
3: Colleague: Thank you very much!
4: Me: You are very welcome, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.

Of those four lines, 1 and 2 are obviously imperative to the ask, but if 3 and 4 are not met, I receive endless inquiries from people on the thread. If Colleague doesn’t respond to 2 after I have sent the document and the ball is in their court, my team will reach out to me to ask if I have followed up with Colleague and their team to see if they have received the document and if they need any additional support. If I don’t respond to 3 in response, someone will invariably reach out and ask if I have offered additional support or responded to the thank-you email in kind with a “you’re welcome.” This happens at least four times a week.

I come from a work environment where a ‘TY!’ via ping is as meaningful as a formal thank-you note, and have always had it normalized that sometimes you don’t need to continue a thread past the ask and deliverable, especially if the workflow is fast-paced and high in volume. Being reminded to constantly thank employees for responding to an email makes me feel belittled, although it’s worth stating that this is coming from both lateral and managerial colleagues across the org. In my daily written communication, I am friendly, polite, prompt, and exhaustive in providing my guidance, and I would describe myself as very well-liked among my colleagues. But this keeps coming up and it is really bugging me.

I have tried several tactics to remediate this: One, I have told colleagues that I will not participate in this practice myself, and that as a matter of habit and my job role (which is senior), I trust my colleagues to complete the necessary tasks that I have outlined as a contribution in my response. Two, I have asked colleagues what they believe needs to be responded to — I ask if they noticed something I missed in the initial inquiry, because I feel confident that the original ask has been satisfied. Each time, their response effectively rests on “it’s not polite to ignore an email,” to which I respond that it isn’t ignoring the email. Finally, I have explained to them that culturally, this is how I communicate.

It has gotten to the point where my manager, a person who routinely ignores most emails, has started telling me that I need to close the loop on every single inquiry. This is a role that receives ~10-20 complex, detailed daily requests with limited delegation opportunities. I’m at a loss here. Should I start sending a boilerplate or automatic response? This is so trivial but it honestly screws up my day a little when someone holds me at Outlook gunpoint for an obsequious, irrelevant reply to a long-completed thread.

This is incredibly bizarre. When you don’t reply to a “thank you” email with “you’re welcome,” your coworkers nudge you to do it? And ask if you’ve offered additional support on top of that?


This is extremely odd.

Look, I’m fine with a cultural expectation that people should close the loop with a “thank you” when they receive an item they requested (#3 in your list), so that the person who sent it is confident that it was received and the transaction has been completed. However, it would still be incredibly weird for your coworkers to follow up with you to remind you to do that, unless you were an intern or perhaps a high school student doing a summer apprenticeship. You are in a senior role. WHY why why are your coworkers checking in to ensure you’ve responded with not just thank-you’s, but you’re-welcome’s too?

And to be clear, if it was just that your office in general sent and expected “you’re welcome” emails, that wouldn’t in itself be a big deal. Organizations develop all sorts of mildly odd cultural norms around email. What’s strange here, though, is that your coworkers are so invested in it that they’re policing you to this degree and reminding you and calling you out when you don’t do it.

How are they getting any work done if they are monitoring and micromanaging email exchanges to this extent? And again, you are in a senior role.

I’m not sure I’ve had this much trouble getting my head around a weird office practice since the office that didn’t permit humor.

Anyway, if your boss is telling you that you need to do it and hasn’t been responsive to your counter-arguments, then you probably need to do it unless you have the capital and the will to take a firmer stand. Feel free to set up short email templates that you can dispatch with a couple of clicks to minimize the amount of time and energy it takes.

Two caveats to that, though: First, you have made your case to your boss for not doing it, right? If not, try that first. Second, what would happen if you just … declined to engage with this weirdness? Like when your coworkers ask you whether you’ve closed the loop with someone, could you just ignore that? Or say yes, because you’ve closed the loop in the way you define it, even if they don’t agree? Or respond with, “I’ve got it covered; no need to check in on this sort of thing”? Or even, depending on the politics of the relationships, “I’ve got it covered; please don’t check in on this sort of thing since it creates a lot of additional back and forth”? Would those options use up a ton of capital in your office and with your boss … or would it just annoy people but ultimately be fine?

Also, for the record, it’s particularly bizarre that your boss is ordering you to do it when she herself full-on ignores most emails … and I wonder if it’s because your coworkers have taken their extreme concern about your email habits to her and, rather than standing up for email sanity, she’s decided it’s easier to just appease them? I don’t know, but your office is officially Very Strange.

{ 308 comments… read them below }

  1. t-vex*

    I’m a big fan of the non-answer answer.
    Colleague: Did you follow up with so-and-so?
    Me: I’ve handled it.

    1. Anonys*

      Yes. I like this ambiguity!

      Personally, I usually (though not always) do nr 3 (closing the loop by thanking/acknowledging) but if its really just a quick thank you, I almost always don’t hit reply all, as I assume that not everyone in cc needs another email that is basically void of content.

      Maybe OP can do this a couple of times and then also let their team (in cc) know that they won’t always be on every response and that they should assume OP has it handled.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        When I’m responding to an email sent to a list, I’ll cc the whole list on the first response (which may just be “investigating the issue”). Then I drop the list from cc and only include relevant people.

        I wish my other team members would do so as well; the number of times I’ve discovered that someone else is investigating the issue without notifying the asker or the team is irritating.

    2. Overit*

      I was famous (or infamous) at 2 jobs with this sort of cultural closed loop insanity. My reply was, “Got it!”
      At my going away party at one job, they made a banner that said “Got it!” and had everyone sign it.

  2. Anonymous 75*

    This sounds like it’s going to boil down to is this a hill you want to die on? Now granted I think it’s a stupid practice. but it also seems pretty interesting in the company culture to the point to where your push back had been shot down and your boss has told you to do it. You need to ask yourself is this a culture that fits in with you or not and can you adapt of it doesn’t.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yes, I was thinking that. It sounds like LW has pushed back on this as much is as reasonable, and people are PRETTY INSISTENT that this is what they do.

      You could set up an email template to make this as labour-low-intensive as possible, but it doesn’t sound to me like changing it is on the table.

      First of all, the lightbulb has to WANT to change…

      1. M*

        This sounds like the kind of thing that Outlook rules were made to handle! It’s probably consistent enough to define the pattern for an auto reply.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I’d have an autoreply of “thank you, you’re welcome, let me know if you need any assistance” for all internal emails.

      2. She of Many Hats*

        My thought was at the initial email include a line “No additional response needed unless there are further questions or concerns”, train your team to send their TY/YW messages only directly to the person they’re contacting/responding to, or if the email/chat allows it, to use emojis to acknowledge the responses.

    2. Heather*

      That’s my thought too. Do you want your primary reputation to be “that manager who doesn’t send your-welcome emails”? I know it’s dumb, but it might be the path of least resistance to just participate.

    3. umami*

      Exactly. The workplace norm isn’t going to change to her preference, so it’s just one of those things you need to roll your eyes at and do as efficiently as possible. If the goal is to make the problem go away, do it in the easiest way possible, is my stance. Don’t make it about who/what is right, because they just don’t agree.

    4. Electra*

      Yeah, that would also drive me crazy, but if it were me I would probably settle for the midpoint: simply replying “You’re welcome!” without anything else. Is it more disruptive to take an extra ten seconds on each email to close the loop or to keep fighting with your colleagues and boss?

    5. Heart&Vine*

      Honestly, I’d be tempted to practice some ‘malicious compliance’ here. Boss wants you to respond to *every* email? Done! No matter what you get in your inbox (spam, a newsletter, a simple ‘you’re welcome’ email. etc.), it gets a reply! Make sure to particularly focus on your boss. If he doesn’t respond to your response to his ‘you’re welcome’ email (“No, YOU’RE welcome! And please let me know if you need anything else!”) be sure to ask him why he hasn’t responded to you. After all, *every* email needs a response! Keep the loop open indefinitely until your boss (and others) are so inconvenienced it borders on insanity.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Heh, this reminds me of some famous author who warned a fan that if she wrote to him, she would always receive an answer, as per family tradition. “If my father received a thank you letter, he thanked them for thanking him, and there was no end to the exchange but death.”

        1. Katydid*

          Hah! That’s funny! In that case, I’d have treated the author as one of my regular correspondents….well, back in the day when I maintained a regular correspondence with old friends. (But it’s unlikely I’d have written to said author in the first case, unless we were already friends, so it’d never happen anyway!)

      2. Stripes*

        Yeah, exactly.

        A “I’m glad to hear that I’m welcome, and I will keep in mind your note that I should let you know of any questions that arise” reply would be barely more weird than the practice of “you’re welcome” emails in the first place. Just keep tacking more steps onto this exchange until all anyone has time for is keeping up with the flood of hollow emails that need acknowledging.

    6. Smithy*

      I agree with this.

      I’d also add that while I am assuming the OP is from the US, and potentially has English as their first language – I don’t know that nor do I know the primary language(s) spoken by this workplace. I add that, because as someone who’s spent my entire working life in multi-lingual workplaces – there are times I’ve seen workplace specific behaviors emerge to help bridge cultural or language divides that make sense at the time. And then a few years down the road, without knowing why those decisions were made, the practice makes less sense.

      I currently have a WhatsApp relationship with one colleague that I’m supportive of due to how it helps us with language barrier issues. If one or two other colleagues wanted to start that with me for similar language reasons, I’d be open to it. If a lot… organization would need a new system because it wouldn’t be effective at scale.

      While this may not help change the OP’s issue, I present this as perhaps an explanation as to why this workplace cultural practice exists. Because if the OP really does want to find a way to change it long term, at some point finding the reason it came about might help the OP bring the specific empathy to the discussion instead of just the practical realities on the practice.

    7. ccsquared*

      If anything, I would be tempted to use templates or a text expander just to see if the boilerplate gets noticed and remarked on. If not, then this is a group of people hyper-diligent about closure who mainly want acknowledgement of receipt. But if you then start getting comments about using the same language everytime, then this is a truly bizarre bunch.

    8. Cheshire Cat*

      Yes, this. It sounds pretty annoying, but it seems like it would be more efficient/less time spent gnashing your teeth to just go ahead and spend 10 seconds to send the thank you/you’re welcome emails.

      I’m wondering about the European colleagues; are they all from the same country? And if so, could the excessive emails be part of that country’s cultural tradition? If that’s the case it might be even more important to go along with your company’s conventions.

  3. Dumpster Fire*

    How about adding something like “No response needed” to your own email signature? That would make it pretty clear that the conversation is over as far as you’re concerned.

    1. Dumpster Fire*

      or maybe not your sig, but at least your response when you’re sending something that should close the loop.

      1. MsM*

        Yeah, I’m not sure why email 2 can’t become “Here’s the thing. If you have any questions or need anything else, let me know; otherwise, I’ll consider this closed. Have a great day!”

        1. RunShaker*

          I was coming here to say the same. I do something similar for my emails. “See attached, if you have any questions or need additional info, please let me know. Have a great day.”

        2. Anne Shirley*

          I like this, and when LW is initiating, they can say “I need a thing. Thank you in advance.”

          1. allathian*

            TIA only works top down, when it’s reasonable to expect the other person to pretty much drop everything to do what you need. From a peer who can make a request but who doesn’t have the authority to reprioritize your work, it comes across as presumptuous.

        3. Sara*

          Yes, came here to say this too – combine emails 2 and 4, so if the issue really is “did you offer additional support”, you have that covered already.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Right. Do these people think that corporate email in the year 2023 is as unreliable as dial-up AOL was in 1991?

  4. Susan Calvin*

    To me, this smells of a terribly misguided “something, at some point, went catastrophically wrong in a way that might have been prevented, so we must put A Process in place for the future”

    Beats me what the original idea behind this could’ve been, but I’d put money down that most people that did know, are retired by now.

    1. anononon*

      I mean, Outlook literally has a ‘like’ function now which could entirely eliminate the need for 3 and 4, but I expect you’re right that this level of email guff has come from A Big Thing That Happened.

      1. BatManDan*

        wait, what? Where? I use Outlook (desktop app, not the online portal) and I haven’t seen it, but I also didn’t know I needed to be looking for it.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I think the like feature is only available on the online Outlook Web with Office 365.

          1. MCL*

            Ugh, yes. I get a “thumbs up” from people who are using that feature, but all it does is generate an email to me that someone has “liked” something… and I’m an Outlook user. Until it’s a universal Outlook feature I dislike the extra email it generates.

            1. Dr. Vibrissae*

              I wonder if this is a desktop vs online thing? Our org uses Outlook, and I just see these types of responses as a number in my alerts, with no additional email generated. Perhaps you can change your settings? Or if not, this is the perfect type of email to filter directly into a folder so it never shows up in your inbox.

            2. FlyingAce*

              I think it depends on who is liking your emails… if someone from my org likes an email, I get a non-intrusive notification in the upper right corner, but if someone outside my org who also uses Outlook likes an email, I get an email.

            3. MCMonkeyBean*

              Oh gosh I hope my office doesn’t start using that feature. I have never seen that in outlook. It’s annoying enough when I get a bunch of texts in a group thread letting me know that everyone with an iPhone “liked” a message lol. I don’t want to start getting emails like that at work.

          2. StressedButOkay*

            It’s also now on the newest version of desktop Outlook which don’t get me started on how terrible this thing is.

            1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

              I don’t use the desktop version often but I think it’s a smiley face guy next to the reply buttons. You can now send a thumbs up, heart, and a few other emojis. Why can’t they have a button that just acknowledges the email or sends a thanks reply?

        2. Waiting on the bus*

          It’s on my desktop app on the upper right corner of the mail where I can also switch dark/light mode and have the reply/reply all/forward buttons.

          I use a Mac and my company uses Office 365.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            365 PC — I have “Try the new Outlook!” switched off. I don’t want to know.

            Whoever posted that Windows + ;(semicolon) key combo for emojis in the software tricks thread is my hero, though.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        It’s available in the desktop app, but I think only certain versions? I have two work computers and have it available on one but not the other because I don’t have the same version of Outlook on both.

        Microsoft also says “reactions only work in Exchange Online mailboxes and, by default, only when the person you’re messaging with is also in your organization and using an Exchange Online mailbox” so even if you have it, you may not see it all the time.

      3. Allonge*

        Well, but you would still have to say ‘thank you for liking my message’ and send a ‘you are welcome’ to that, right? /s

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Right. Do these people think that corporate email in the year 2023 is as unreliable as dial-up AOL was in 1991?

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      It does have the feel of a solution to a problem that has long vanished.

  5. Insert pun here*

    Is your org military-adjacent? This sort of thing (not the policing of it but the general expectation to acknowledge every message) was explained to me as a strong norm within military circles, when I was a civilian with civilian work experience working in a military-adjacent org.

    Your coworkers’ maniacal policing of your email responses, however, is bonkers.

    1. AVP*

      Ohh that makes sense, because I’ve seen it from major international NGOs. To the point where “well received!” was an office joke for awhile when we were working with a particular united group of nations who filled our inboxes with that on every communique.

      1. Nonprofit writer*


        (Sorry, just needed to vent/commiserate.)

    2. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*

      I served in the Army, in a financial/project management type role, with a lot of emails, and this was NOT a thing! Granted, there’s always some CO who doesn’t read email, or some NCO who demands to be CC’d on everything, but beyond individual quirks, I did not have such long chain requirements.
      If I asked one of my soldiers for something, or visa versa, you only follow up if it’s not received timely…because one can miss an email from time to time.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t credit this as a military thing. Obviously every unit is different and has their own practices but this is by no means a common, universal military practice. Much more common to assume things are taken care of and follow up only if they’re not (and widespread use of read receipts, I’ve found).

      2. Baldrick*

        I haven’t seen it anywhere in the army, navy, or air force and it would be viewed strangely to do more than lines 1 and 2 for regular requests. When I send time-sensitive info or large files then I will ask for a line 3 to confirm receipt but that’s very rare. I suspect the extra lines are more common in a military-adjacent situation like Insert Pun Here’s and not in the military itself. OP also mentions being in a job that bridges cultures.

        1. Insert pun here*

          I mean, even this level of communication would have been a lot for my old job. 1-3 would be normal, 4 would be unusual but not necessarily unwelcome. But the text itself would be much less formal, more of a “got it—thanks!” sort of email. And no one would be, like, playing cop about the whole thing.

          I had colleagues who were veterans from all of the services, but the person who explained this to me was Air Force, if that matters.

    3. ferrina*

      Your coworkers’ maniacal policing of your email responses, however, is bonkers.

      I can barely keep up with my own emails- how are these coworkers tracking the OPs?!

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        This was my first thought. These sound like people who have way too much free time at work.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      Military, or govt in general? #3 (Thank you, we got it) is a requirement for my new position, regulatory compliance, to prove to auditors that we did submit correctly.

      I also wonder if there’s an EU / US split on this? My EU team members are more likely to send “You’re welcome!” than my US team members. But we all know this difference in style and wouldn’t monitor anyone about it.

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        EU consists of several countries with very diverse languages and cultures. To me, this email practice seems very odd. I don’t know about every single country, but it’s definitely not a general European thing.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          I’ve noticed it from coworkers living in: Ireland, Germany, France, Hungary. England too, though of course they’re not EU anymore. So, yes, of course the EU has a wide variety of cultures, but there is a clear (and well known) variation between most EU countries and the US.

          According to various ‘cross-cultural business communications’ classes, it’s that the US is an outlier as far as being terse and business-focused. My experience is consistent with that – my coworkers in Latin / South America and South Asia are more chatty than my US coworkers too, but my non-business interactions there have been more ‘checking in with personal things’ than ‘politeness formulas’, while the EU interactions have had a lot of ‘politeness formulas’. I haven’t had enough interactions with East Asian residents to notice styles. (I, otoh, will talk to *anyone*, anytime. people are cool)

          1. allathian*

            Yes, that figures. I’ve taken business communications classes in both French and Spanish, and the politeness formulas in those languages are a thing to behold. That was 25+ years ago, though, just as businesses were switching from letters to email. I don’t know how much that switch has affected the verbose politeness formulas, if at all.

            But a French letter signoff can be two lines long, although I seriously doubt the longest ones would be used in internal communications.

          2. Morning Coffee*

            Interesting. In Northern Europe we have a myth that USA has cultural endless chatter and people here are expected to practice small talk “to be more international”!

            1. allathian*

              I guess it depends on your baseline. I have a feeling that the US (on the coasts at least) is somewhere in between Northern Europe and Southern Europe in what people expect in business communications. But the US is no more a monolith than Europe is. And obviously there are organizational cultures that are outliers in their environment regardless of where you are.

              I haven’t been in the US yet, but from what I’ve seen and what people have told me, the small talk requirement seems to be particularly true in some service industries, and also in social life in general.

              In Finland you wouldn’t say “Nice meeting you, I’d love to get together for a coffee sometime” unless you meant it. Unless they’re experienced in international business with Americans, the Finn would see that as a sincere expression of interest, and would be confused if not downright offended to learn that the American only said that to be polite.

              About 20 years ago one local restaurant chain went “American” and started asking customers if they enjoyed their meal in the middle of the meal. The reaction was very negative at first, given that the waitstaff who were expected to ask the question often interrupted people’s lively discussions. For the waitstaff, this was one more task that they had to do at some point while the customer was eating. In recent years, the question has become much more both expected and subtle, in the sense that waitstaff have learned to pick the right moment to ask the question, and no doubt are also getting better training. The practice has also been adopted by most other restaurants, it’s pretty much the expected thing here now.

              1. Random Dice*

                I’m originally from the southeastern part of the US (SO MUCH SMALL TALK!!!) and moved to the northeast and it’s wonderful, there’s a polite-to-warm “we’re both human” bit at the beginning of meetings, but it’s not 10 minutes long for a 30 minute meeting.

                I’m typically American in a lot of ways, I smile a lot even when I’m in pain or dealing with something difficult. But in neither part of the country would I have offered coffee without meaning it, that’s ruder than just not doing it. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but it’s not the culture I’ve experienced where I’ve lived. (Gigantic country though, with hyper-regional variation.)

          3. Emmy Noether*

            Huh. I’m German and the number of “you’re welcome” emails I have sent or received in my professional life can probably be counted on one hand. Even thank you’s are omitted more often than not.

            Maybe it’s a sector thing?

  6. Katara's side braids*

    My organization doesn’t do this, but I’ve noticed that a few of my close contacts at a partner organization seem to be following the same rules! When I reply “thank you” to close the loop, I invariably get the following reply:

    “Hello [Katara],

    You’re welcome.

    [Email signature]”

    The email signatures all start with “Thank you,” which is a bit funny – as is the fact that they greet me formally and by name for these “you’re welcome” emails. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve intentionally stopped sending a “thank you” email, since I’m 99% sure it just adds another item to their already overwhelming to-do list.

    If LW and their colleagues frequently have to send external emails, this might be a way to push back against these rules. Once external partners pick up on the fact that your org’s employees are pressured to send unnecessary applies, they might decide that the time wasted on the replies outweighs the value of closing the loop with a “thank you.”

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I worked with a woman who would say “You’re welcome” as a response to my “thank you” as a response to her saying “have a great day”. She was the oddest woman I ever worked with and was always a step off in the team.

      1. margaret*

        I had a coworker like this who was also the oddest person I ever worked with. I figured out eventually that she always had to have the last word over email because she deleted literally everything from her inbox and used her sent mail as her archive. The mind boggles.

      2. Katydid*

        FEIW—“you too” might work better as a response to “have a great day,” if you encounter someone like this again.

        I use it as my reflexive reply for this area’s near-ubiquitous “have a blessed day,” though I’ll be glad if/when the fad passes.

      3. Vio*

        I would be so tempted to send a pointless reply to every “You’re welcome” just to return the weirdness to them… I probably wouldn’t actually do it though, but I’d consider it!

    2. Allonge*

      I have a colleague like this – seems like they have an allergy to unanswered emails, to be honest. But one, I can deal with, a whole office, like OP? Nope.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      I used to get a lot of feedback about the ‘tone’ of my emails, and I was never able to figure out how much of that was because I’m a woman. So I changed my email signature to: “Thank you, MigraineMonth”.

      I haven’t gotten any critical feedback since then, but I do occasionally send out nonsensical emails such as “You’re welcome! Thank you, MigraineMonth.”

  7. Angie*

    I’d be tempted to tell your micromanaging coworkers they’re welcome to send the follow ups and thank you for thanking me messages themselves if they’re so concerned about it.

    Probably not a “good” solution but the mind boggles at getting anxious emails about if you said “you’re welcome” to someone’s perfunctory thank you note.

    1. Miss Muffet*

      It almost makes me wonder at what point the thing really is considered “closed”. Because if you are saying, beyond “You’re Welcome” – please let me know if there’s anything else…I’d think the person would feel compelled to reply “no, no further questions” to actually close it. And then do you have to respond “Ok, so glad to hear that”? I mean come on. Thank You emails by themselves are extraneous and close the convo most of the time unless people really need to know something was received/seen.

      1. littlehope*

        Yeah, this feels like it has potential to become an infinite “You hang up,” “No, you hang up” loop!

          1. ferrina*

            This is where my mind went. So I just need to…..keep replying to an email thread until someone grievously offends me and I can be impolite?

      2. MassMatt*

        I was kind of wondering this. Why stop after “you’re welcome”? Shouldn’t THAT likewise be acknowledged?

        This would drive me nuts. Yes, it only takes 30 seconds to send, but every one of these adds to the message pile and makes it harder to search for the substantive portion of the email string.

        Sadly, it seems as though it’s an expectation at this workplace and LW must conform or pay some sort of consequence.

        The people who are CC’d on these and following up to see if LW has done her job by saying “you’re welcome” clearly have too much time on their hands and need more real work to do.

      3. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I’m thinking malicious compliance (if it were not so time-consuming!) and do just what Miss Muffet suggests.

        Send an email that says, “You are very welcome, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.”

        Then follow up with a query; “you did not respond. Can you confirm if you have any questions?”

        Them: oh, no, no questions, thanks!
        You: Thank you for confirming.

        Then follow up with, “You did not say ‘you are welcome,’ can you confirm you received my thank you?”

        Ad nauseam!

        1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

          This! I would be So. Tempted! It probably won’t work yo show these bored, pearl clilutching bellends that they’re being ridiculous, though, which is Unfortunate.

      4. Engineery*

        Amusingly, this sort of “infinite acknowledgment loop” is a legitimate computer science topic, typically illustrated as the “Two Generals’ Problem.”

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I was thinking of that one too! Fortunately most emails don’t need to navigate the fog of war.

  8. Deb*

    If you want a happy medium, and emojis are okay, you could add “please let me know if you have questions” to response number 2 and then respond with a smiley face to #4. My current work culture doesn’t generally do “you’re welcome” type emails but occasionally I’ll correspond with someone who is SUPER FRIENDLY and seems to want more and I’ll respond with a smile. It doesn’t take much time and might work for you.

    1. Not-so Baby Attorney*

      I was wondering this myself. If you put the offer of additional support in #2, at least it’s easier to leave off the “Your welcome” without seeming frigid.

    2. Just Another Zebra*

      I said something below before reading all the comments, but I think a little sentence or two at the end of Step 2 would be the easiest work around with the least capital spent. OP can close her half of the loop, and the the confirmation of receipt (“thank you” Step 3) closes the other half.

    3. Joron Twiner*

      This is what I was thinking. Make the first email super friendly, then when someone chides you for not being polite and helpful, you can point to that first email.

  9. anononon*

    I’m usually a fan of Outlook Quick Parts for ‘boilerplate’ type answers to emails, but I think OP is right to want to shut down this bananacrackers level of call and response.

    In my Old!Job we had a few folk who would use part 4 type nonsense like ‘you are most abundantly welcome and I will be at your service should you deign to throw any further morsels of requests my way’ but they were people who didn’t have enough work to do. OP clearly doesn’t have time to be playing this game!

    1. LikesToSwear*

      I love Outlook Quick Parts and use them frequently. They’re great for frequently requested contact info or other form letters. But I would absolutely not be setting up “you’re welcome” letters! even that takes up time I may not have.

      I love the suggestion to include in the original response something like “If you have any questions or need anything else, let me know; otherwise, I’ll consider this closed. Have a great day!” It closes the loop and lets the recipient know that no additional response is required.

      1. JustaTech*

        I swear I have learned more about Outlook today than in any formal training I’ve ever had!

  10. monogodo*

    Where does it end?

    If every email has to be replied to/acknowledged, why is it ok that the “you’re welcome” email is ignored?

    1. Paris Geller*

      It’s like people who want to send a thank you in response to a thank you card! I’ve been on the receiving end of that before. Once you get in the loop of endless thanking, it will never end. Ask me how I know.

      1. Dumpster Fire*

        I’d be tempted to respond to the “thank you” with “no no, thank YOU” just to see if they say “you’re welcome” at that point, or push back on the thanking, or just give up. A few rounds of this and maybe some will realize how ridiculous it is (or of course it could get worse!)

      2. Dina Caliente*

        I have a relative like this! They’ll say thank you in person and then a follow up email also saying thank you. And if you don’t send a “you’re welcome” email in response, she will send ANOTHER email confirming that this is the correct email, because she sent you a thank you email and never received a response!

        I take great pleasure in saying “ah yes, I saw that email.” and saying nothing else. It wouldn’t work in a professional setting, but it works well enough for a dysfunctional family.

    2. Neeul*

      It would be unproductive and petty, but I’d almost be tempted to follow up with the coworkers “Did you get my ‘you’re welcome’ response? You didn’t respond so I was just a little worried.”

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Almost tempted? I’d go directly there:

        1: Me: I have a request for X type of documentation template, can you send it to me? Here are the details.
        2: Colleague: Sure, here’s the prepared document.
        3: Me: Thank you very much!
        4: Colleague: You are very welcome, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
        5: Me: Thank you for acknowledging my email. I have no questions at this time.
        6: (because they would feel obligated) Colleague: You are very welcome, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
        7: Again, thank you for the email response. This is very helpful.

        EVERY email would get a response, over and over and over. Eventually (probably pretty quickly), they would ask me to stop, and at that point, I’d stop where it made sense, at steps 2 or 3, depending on who started it.

        1. QOTM*

          With you on this. I would be unable to resist escalating this to ridiculous levels.

          4: Colleague: You are very welcome, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
          5: Me: Thank you for acknowledging my email. I have no questions at this time.
          6: (because they would feel obligated) Colleague: You are very welcome, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
          7: Me: You have my sincerest gratitude. I am deeply fortunate to work with such a learned and responsive colleague. I eagerly await our next opportunity to work together. Glad tidings to you and your family.

    3. duinath*

      yes! surely they should reply to the you’re welcome email! and then you should reply to that! less a loop and more of an ouroboros. ‬

  11. SJPxo*

    How odd, perhaps you can create a ‘signature’ that is basically ‘You’re welcome, let me know if you need anything else’ and then rather than type it, you can click on ‘add signature’ and which one you’d like adding and press send.

    That way it’s super quick and you’ve closed the loop.

    Is it obnoxious that they want it like this, yes, but you’ve had so many requests for it and it looks like that’s the way it is

    1. In-n-out*

      If the end loop has to close, this is the way to do it. In my previous role at a well-known company, I would get a lot of unsolicited inquiries. To respond to all could easily take a few hours each week. Instead, I created a variety of signatures and would just plop them in as a response. I also had a very specific voicemail “if you are currently not a vendor….”

  12. Anonymous 77*

    Having worked in this kind of cross-cultural environment in different roles over the last 15 years, I would say this is something you should just do. Failing to do so creates bad blood with your colleagues and they will become increasingly distant and unhelpful, even if you supervise them directly. If you simply cannot bring yourself to do it, you may want to seriously consider whether this company culture is for you.

    1. Heather*

      Yeah, I agree it’s annoying but since all that’s being asked is to hit a keyboard shortcut 15 times a day it doesn’t seem worth spending capital on.

    2. Heidi*

      I can totally see this happening. For some reason, this emailing convention has extended beyond its immediate practical function and become some sort of symbol of who belongs and who’s an outsider in this organization.

    3. Employee of the Bearimy*

      Yeah, this is where I come down as well. This is the cultural norm for this office, and since it’s not actively harmful, you’re the one making things difficult by standing your ground. Find a way to make it as non-intrusive a task as possible, but start assuming you have to do it.

    4. JustaTech*

      Yes, but I’d also be tempted to take aside a few of the people who are mostly likely to say “you didn’t send out the ‘you’re welcome’ email” and ask them if there is a frequent problem of people not getting emails or thinking that they can’t continue to reach out to the OP if they have more questions.
      Because if emails regularly bounce that’s an IT problem that needs to be solved, not worked around by sending more emails.
      And if people think that they can’t reach out for more information, well, that’s a problem too. But also one that should be addressed head on, and not by people pestering their peers about “you’re welcome” emails.

  13. bamcheeks*

    Six weeks ago I moved from a company which had the Microsoft Outlook function of sending a reaction in response to an email to one which doesn’t have that enabled, and I miss it approximately a dozen times a day. :(

      1. Phony Genius*

        They just added it here. To me, it’s a series of blue buttons occupying even more space at the top of my e-mails (along with external content warnings, etc.), leaving less space for content. Also, I don’t like to respond to people with what feels like a form letter, so I have turned it off. Maybe if they located these buttons somewhere else, I’d be more open to it.

        1. Trina*

          This sounds to me like you’re referring to the “suggested replies” that Outlook will do, like “You’re welcome”, “Glad to help”, “No problem”, while I assumed bamcheeks was referring to the emoji reaction option, where you can leave a thumbs-up, heart, party popper, etc.

          I agree that the replies do feel weird – even if I’m going to send back something that is identical for all practical purposes, I still type it out myself. But the emojis – especially the thumbs-up – are super convenient and feel like just the right level of acknowledgement, so long as your office isn’t super formal.

    1. Hks*

      some people at my job have started using those and I was so startled every time I’d get the alert noise. I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the alert sound so I turned off the ability to see the reactions entirely on my desktop. Now I only see them on my phone app and I don’t find them useful.

  14. Elly*

    If the OP uses Outlook as their email program, then this can be set up as a “Quick Step”.

    New > Custom > Choose an Action “Reply All” > Show Options > Text “You are very welcome, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.”

    Check box for “Automatically send after a 1 min delay” (in case this Quick Step gets triggered in error).

    Set a relevant name for the Quick Step, and if you wish, a shortcut key and click “Finish”.

    Then when you’re in the inbox, you can press the shortcut key or click the quick step button and it will send the reply.

    You can also stack the actions, so you could get Outlook to 1) Mark the original email as read; 2) Reply all with set message; and 3) Archive / Move the email to a filing folder.

    1. WonderEA*

      The QuickStep function is one of the most valuable things I learned at a conference a few years ago. As an EA who receives a lot of reports via email, having a “Received, thanks!” QS has saved me MONTHS of my work life, and keeps people from following up needlessly.

  15. Ellis Bell*

    Are they actually asking you to specifically respond to thank you emails with “you’re welcome” or would an emoji response do it? You can respond to an email with an emoji with just one click sometimes and it would prevent claims you’ve “ignored” the email. If they go from there to specify wording, I would want to make them explain what’s so particularly helpful or required about those words. Oh and the “offer additional support” thing I would get out of the way with the first response. Like putting “please let me know if you have additional questions” tagged on in the first place so that I could respond to claims I didn’t with “yes, I offered to help with additional questions, I just did it in fewer emails.”

  16. Corelle*

    I am wondering how they push back on unreasonable and time-sucky requests if the expectation is to close the loop this firmly, always offer additional support, and always follow up? Leaving a ball in someone else’s court is one of my favorite tools for maintaining work boundaries, and I don’t understand how you can ever do it in this culture if you’re always expected to return the ball.

    1. ccsquared*

      Such a good point. Many people would take the “don’t hesitate…” as a perfunctory expression of goodwill but enough people would see that as an invitation to expand the scope of the original task that it’s worth avoiding.

      I’ve subconsciously switched to “anytime” with people I trust, “happy to help” with reasonable people, and “you’re welcome” or “yw” with the people I secretly hope will not need help again.

  17. The Person from the Resume*

    I assume you’re more senior than your team. At least when they ask you, I’d tell them that with

    (3 lacking) “I assume that if they have not recieved the document and ll information they need, they will contact us with questions. This how I manage my communications; please do not ask me about this situation in the future.”
    (4 Lacking) “They acknowledged reciept. There’s no need for further communication. This how I manage my communications; please do not ask me about this situation in the future.”

    And if they continue after you ask them to stop, “I told you not to ask about this situation previously. Please stop”

    Obviously, though, your team is leaving the messages in their inbox and reviewing them for completion of steps 3 and 4. So obviously it’s ingrained for them and time consuming but build into their work flow. You need to train them not to expect you to engage in 3 and 4 type communications.

    1. *kalypso*

      It sounds like they’re included on the email so they’re waiting to see why so they can take it into account in their workload.

      If they don’t need to be on the email they shouldn’t be, then they wouldn’t need to follow up to find out why they are.

    2. Tesuji*

      > I assume you’re more senior than your team

      I didn’t get that sense.

      OP specified that she was in a senior position (i.e., not entry-level, a level where she thought she should be trusted to handle her own emails), not that she was senior in comparison to the colleagues who were pestering her about it. I’m not necessarily assuming the latter.

  18. WellRed*

    “Thank you.”
    “You’re welcome.”
    “Thank you for saying you’re welcome.”
    “Thank you for thanking me for saying you’re welcome.”
    Yep. Exhausting.

    1. Critical Rolls*

      Yeah, this is the kind of ridiculous, nonfunctional, performative politeness that would result in two people saying, “no, after YOU” until they both perish of exposure at the door of a building.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      This could actually be kind of fun if you were trying to beat the record and get them to give a certain number of responses. You’d have to throw in a few curveball questions to keep it going though: “I hope this wasn’t an inconvenience?” and “Are you sure it wasn’t a problem?” and “I know you said I was welcome, but I’m unsure about bothering you, if I do have any follow up questions” etc. Don’t do it obviously OP, but it’s a game to be saved for the day you run out of fucks.

    3. VaguelySpecific*

      I mean, if you want to go the malicious compliance route, this is the correct response. ;)

  19. It Might Be Me*

    I like that in the web version of my organization’s Outlook there is a thumbs-up button. I know it’s a “like” button. But, I use it as an acknowledgment. I’ve seen it and acknowledged it, but it doesn’t need an email.

    1. Jojo*

      In my work group, we do the same in IM. The thumbs up means “got it” and somehow we have all come to silent agreement on that. It’s awesome.

      LW, this sounds soul sucking to me, but it sounds so ingrained that it’s unavoidable. I think having prepared signatures as mentioned above is the way Id go.

      1. JustaTech*

        Careful though, there is a farmer in Canada who was sued for breach of contract because he replied “thumbs up” to a text that contained a contract for delivery.
        (The contract said something about acknowledging agreement by text, I don’t remember the exact details.)

  20. No Longer Working*

    Number 4 can easily be combined with #2 to save that step your coworkers are so weird about: #2 – Here’s the document. Let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of further assistance!
    #3 – Thanks, I received it!

    1. HE Admin*

      I honestly can’t believe I had to scroll down so far for someone to point this out. I send SO MANY of these messages–“Here’s the thing, please let me know if you have any questions or need further information.”

      1. umami*

        I do this, too, but if my workplace had some weird convention to have it come after the ‘thank you’ email, then I would stop doing it at step 2 and do it at step 4. Why buck the system if no one is siding with you?

    2. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      If the issue is “it is rude not to respond to every email”, I’m not sure this solves it.

  21. Happily Retired*

    OMG, I would be so tempted to harass the boss by anxious emails whenever I didn’t get a reply to my original and THEN to my thank you reply, over and over and over and…

    Please understand that I’m not recommending this, but boy, would I be tempted!

  22. bean*

    I have no idea if this would help but could you try combining emails 2 and 4? So like, “Here’s the prepared document! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.” So that way when they say thank you, the loop truly *is* closed and you’ve offered additional support? I don’t know if it would lessen the coworkers following up, but it at least helps you to go with the “I’ve got it covered” response with no room for objection.

  23. Rosie*

    I am also an American in a European company and would bet hard money this situation has developed from a cultural prejudice against American matter-of-fact-ness and they don’t know how else to tell you they want you to soften your tone.

    I suggest combining 2 and 4 in the example dialogue above. Here’s your document, don’t hesitate to let me know if you need anything else. When they thank you, the loop is closed.

    I would be surprised if that didn’t help a lot.

    1. Reality Check*

      I was thinking the same thing and have a suspicion on which culture specifically, might be in play here.

    2. Storm in a teacup*

      As a European working in Europe for an American company I assumed this was being driven by Europeans needing to be excessively polite to the Americans!

      OP maybe you can comply for a short while and then approach your line manager naming the specific problem and impact on your work, what you’ve tried already and what you need her to do.
      At my workplace we had a similar issue of a lot of people replying all to office wide emails eg if someone sent an inform email to say someone was joining / leaving / promoted or free food in the kitchen etc….
      A number of us flagged it (aka moaned about it) in the annual feedback efficiency staff survey. The leadership (some of whom were the worst culprits) have since cracked down on it and all emails now have a ‘please do not reply all’ note on them. It’s made a big difference.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes same. I’ve worked in a couple of European countries and have never noticed this as being a thing and none of the companies I’ve worked for lately have had this as a rule. I think it’s more a specific thing to this company rather than a cultural phenomenon.

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          I agree and it’s not a very British thing at all. Our internal emails are generally very informal and most people don’t bother signing or putting greetings.
          I can imagine in some other European countries there may be a more formal approach. Certainly our US colleagues are more formal in their emails but thankfully usually quite direct

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, if I’m emailing internal colleagues then I will start off with ‘Hi Jane’ but usually if it ends up being a long-ish email chain then at some point we stop the greetings and just go straight into the info we need to get across.

            So email 1 would be:

            ‘Hi Jane,

            Just wondering if you’ve received the cover files for Expert Llama Grooming from design yet? Could you send them over if they’re ready?


            …and email 3 would be more like

            ‘Ah yes, I remember them saying they were short-staffed this week! That’s no problem, we can wait until Monday if needs be. Thanks for checking!’

            I definitely don’t routinely send ‘You’re welcome’ responses. If I send someone a document, I would like them to respond so I know they’ve got it, but to me that’s the end of the conversation. I do usually include a line at the end of my original email saying ‘If you have any questions, please do let me know’ or ‘Please let me know if there’s anything else you need’, which I think closes the loop by itself anyway.

      2. Susan Calvin*

        Yeah, I can see where Rosie is coming from, but being worked for a Dutch company with colleagues in the US south – this could definitely cut both ways!

        1. Violetta*

          As a Dutch person the practice described in the letter would drive me totally insane, haha.

      3. Mighty midget*

        Better still if the email sender learnt to use the Blind Carbon Copy option, instead of CC, and then the email recipients wouldn’t be able to reply all, even if they wanted to!

    3. Jinni*

      OMG, I think this may be it! I’m an American living in Europe half-time and some (American) friends and I get…chided?…for our supposed brusqueness. I had to dial it down from bullet points to paragraphs. I’m lovely in person, but I don’t want to engage in this level of…politeness? all the time. It’s mentally exhausting. That said, I think Rosie is right.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, although it does depend a lot on where you are. Finnish business culture in general is very business-focused and we can come across as terse to some other Europeans.

        Generally, in my experience the traditionally Catholic areas of Western Europe (France, Spain, Italy…) require more politeness in communications than the Protestant ones (Nordics, Netherlands, UK, most of Germany). I haven’t dealt with Germans often enough to notice if there’s a difference in business communications between Catholic Bavaria and the rest of the country (Lutheran), or for that matter if there’s a difference between the UK and Catholic Ireland. I can’t say anything about politeness culture in Eastern Europe either, even if they weren’t exactly known for being service-minded during the Communist era.

        My internal business comms tend to go something like this:


        Here’s the file you requested.


        I’m somewhat less terse if I need an extension on a deadline, though.

        I don’t expect thanks although I don’t get offended if I get them, but because we use a ticketing system that’s been somewhat unreliable in the past, I BCC myself to check that all the files were attached to the message and resend if not.

        1. Loki*

          German here. I am not sure if it is related to religion, but generally speaking, people from the North of the country are stereotyped as being more terse than from the south. And Berliners in particular are stereotyped as being rather brusque.

          So two guys meet on an island in the North Sea. Says one: “Moin” (Hello). Says the other “Moin moin” (roughly: hello there). The first guy thinks “wow, what a blabbermouth.”

          1. allathian*

            That’s funny! “Hi!” in Finnish is either “Hei” or “Moi,” or sometimes Moikka! The Swedish equivalent is “Hej.” “Mojn” does exist, too, although it’s a dialectal expression typically used by the Swedish-speaking population in some parts of the southern coast of Finland.

            That said, I think it’s pretty universal that people in large cities, especially in capital cities, are seen as more brusque and less friendly than elsewhere, regardless of the country. It’s certainly true of Finland and the Helsinki metropolitan region, France and Paris, Spain and Madrid, the UK and London, just to mention the countries where I’ve lived.

      2. münchner kindl*

        That’s really weird to hear, given how many other advices from Allison about US business culture always has the small talk at the start, instead of jumping straight to business, both in Emails and in personal meetings – Germans are usually described as rude when they start business meetings with Americans by getting down to business, instead of spending 5-10 minutes asking after health, the kids, talking about the weather…

        And all the polite verbiage about how to give a clear order from a superior to an employee that must be softened because if it sounds harsh, Americans will balk, they don’t want to be given orders… It’s really weird to hear the other side now.

    4. Emmy Noether*

      “European” really means nothing in this context, because communication habits vary widely. If you think Americans are matter-of-fact, you have never worked with Dutch, Germans, or Poles (and most of northern Europe I assume, but don’t have the experience to back up).

      It’s an occasional source of conflict among employees of EU institutions.

  24. ecnaseener*

    Oof, what an annoying practice! But if you don’t feel like pushing back further, the quickest way to do this in outlook is with a Quick Step. One click (or keyboard shortcut) to reply with a pre-drafted message, automatically sends with a 1-minute delay.

  25. Mockingjay*

    It seems that the cc’s are causing the issue. I’m not sure how OP could approach this; perhaps approach one person at a time: “hey, to speed things up and reduce emails, for quick questions can we leave off the cc’s?” (OP could try replying only to the originator, but I think that would cascade the “did you respond?” emails.)

    I don’t see a solution for OP, given the company culture. Sorry.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      This is what I was (also) goggling at–all of the thank yous and you’re welcomes are reply-alls. That would make me irritable to have dozens of substance-less emails every day.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I struggle with this at my agency. If I reply all, I’m cluttering inboxes. If I don’t, people may be left wondering whether the original request got handled or whether they need to track down an answer.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      Yeah, the cc’s are likely exacerbating the problem. My office has a bad culture of lots of cc’s, or of sending a request to three people on the “to” line who are in different departments hoping one of them will have the answer. That can definitely lead to me replying to a colleague with “Are you handling this or do you need my team’s input?”. And when I’ve delegated something to someone on my team, I do sometimes end up replying to some part of the thread to my report with something about “closing the loop on this – did they get what they needed?”

      But I absolutely do not police specific thank you/your welcome protocols. That part’s bannanpants.

      1. *kalypso*

        I don’t think they’re policing it, they just need to know whether they can knock it off their ‘save 5 mins in case I need to handle this’ list or not.

        The more appropriate solution would be for them to not be on the email in the first place if they don’t need to be. If things need to go to the team and whoever is first responds and the rest don’t need to do anything, vs whoever is around follows up, then those should go to a team email where the response is from the team and once it’s sent, it’s done; whoever checks the team email next handles what’s come in, which may or may not include follow up, but if there isn’t a follow up in the team email then there isn’t a follow up, instead of ‘maybe the follow up didn’t have a cc we need to check’ and ‘how do we know if they haven’t confirmed yet what if they have’. This is a workflow issue not a ‘this is unnecessary just for the sake of being polite’ issue.

  26. soontoberetired*

    This is really interesting. I have noticed that my Asian co-workers always send back you’re welcome emails and thank you emails and it can be overwhelming when you get a ton of emails a day. And that’s fairly recent, it wasn’t something that was noticeable before. Something changed somewhere – these co-workers are fairly new to my company. They also get very formal in
    Team Chats – I have told people to just get to the point. I am the senior person in my group, I can have 5 people sending me messages at the same time (which is another problem), I don’t want to spend my time on saying hello, how are you to every team chat person.

    1. Miss Muffet*

      Yes! I have this also often with my colleagues in India. I try to thread the needle by just answering the “how are you” with Good – what can i help you with? Lets them have the small kindness of the salutation but also, let’s get right to the point. Otherwise we’d be here all day (and if it’s not someone I work with regularly, like someone in IT just helping with an issue or something, let’s be honest, none of us cares how anyone is!)

    2. Joron Twiner*

      You generally have to be more formal between coworkers in Asia than in the US, so if your coworkers are new, maybe they haven’t adjusted to your company culture yet.
      Maybe someone can take them aside and explain it to them!

  27. babyyoda*

    I know you mentioned that you’re a mix of EU and US employees, but do you have a lot of people who are working in their second language? I’d wonder if the over-acknowledgement of messages comes from previous confusion or issues re: language barriers. Just speculation!

  28. Delta Delta*

    I do think it’s helpful to have the acknowledgement email. A “thanks” or “got it” or whatever suits the bill. Unless an obvious action is taken and the original sender knows, without acknowledgement you never know if the message made it or if it’s floating in the ether somewhere. I recently encountered this with another lawyer – we agreed I’d draft something and he would file it. I sent it to him and said, “could you file this?” I got no response, so I didn’t know if he did it or not. Later I got an automated email through the court filing system saying it was filed – this was a sign to me it was done. But because we were up against a deadline, had he just popped a quick message back saying, “thanks, just did it” or something, it would have quelled some anxiety.

    The “you’re welcome” email is a bridge too far, though. It doesn’t really seem to serve a purpose except to keep the thread going just for the sake of keeping it going. It sounds tiresome.

    1. Samwise*

      Sure, but every single person cc’d on the message does not need the acknowledgement.

      It’s on the edge of insubordination– OP is senior, and juniors are poking her?

    2. münchner kindl*

      I think in addition to different cultural rules and language nuances that could impact communications, thus erring on the side of caution, there’s another problem with email:

      99% of the time, email is quick – it arrives immediately – and reliable – it arrives, or bounces.

      But in 1% of cases, Email is weird: Outlook doesn’t send your Email, it moves into the “Outbox” folder instead “Sent”, and you have to manually trigger it to try again; it gets lost for several hours (or even half a day) somewhere before it lands in your inbox; it gets eaten by the system – not into the Maybe Spam folder, but just disappears, either because your email or subject line triggers the filter software (which you don’t have access to) – but because it’s so rare, you rely on the email arriving and have no idea it messed up this one.

      So closing it with Nr. 3 is a good idea.

      And with a Keyboard shortcut, I don’t really buy that it’s such a waste of time.

  29. Maple Leaf*

    My office has a similar culture around emails, and it drives me up the wall. As a veteran staff member of 15 years, I have it handled if you have sent it to me. As a result of the constant need to be reassured the email has made its way to me, I have started responding with “received” or “completed”. I send nothing beyond a one word reply without any pushback on it.

  30. Just Another Zebra*

    I’m wondering if you could circumvent this by including something in your response email. What if you added a line like “Please see attached. If you have any questions or need additional support please don’t hesitate to let me know.” That way your offering support and closing your half of the loop, and the ‘thank you’ email closes the other half.

  31. grubbies*

    Malicious compliance is tempting.

    1: Colleague: I have a request for X type of documentation template, can you send it to me? Here are the details.
    2: Me: Sure, here’s the prepared document. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR REACHING OUT.

    My, how the turn tables.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Ooh, I like that and I don’t even think it is malicious compliance!

      You have brilliantly turned (2 responses required from OP):
      please help me, sure, thank you, you are welcome/any questions

      into (one response required from OP):
      please help me, thank you for asking, you are welcome

      I would enjoy figuring out how to do this every time!

      How the turn tables indeed!

  32. BatManDan*

    For someone with ADHD, and who is aware of the research on how much a “short” interruption really costs in terms of productivity, this would be unsustainable. One email and a reply absolutely CANNOT turn into 4 (or more, if you count the inquiries) if you actually want me to get my job done.

  33. JMA*

    While I totally agree that this level of communication is unnecessary, the easiest way to comply (if you choose to) would be to create two premade Signatures in Outlook. One with a generic “Thank You” blurb and another with the generic “You’re Welcome” blurb. At least then you’re not typing these repetitive replies, with the added bonus of showing them your contempt for the entire process by making it as bland and generic as possible. ;)

  34. Rebecca*

    I am a Canadian in France. This is my life.

    The French are incredibly formal in their written communication. I am used to sending emails between colleagues that look like this:

    “Hey Sarah, free for a meeting after lunch?”
    “Yes, how about 1?”
    “Great, see you then.”

    If a French colleague emails me, it begins with “Dear Mrs. Smith,” even though we have been teaching in adjacent classrooms and having coffee in the photocopy room togetherfor a year. It will include at least one compliment (perhaps backhanded!), will be sure to explicitly remind me that they respect me, will really beat around the bush about how they’re permitting themselves to ask for the meeting, and I will be expected to respond in kind.

    It took me months to realize why my colleagues all thought I was rude, which was a real identity crisis for me, because I’m Canadian! We’re polite! I have had to take writing classes specifically about polite emailing conventions.

    It’s a thing.

    1. Rebecca*

      And if you’re asking how they get any work done? The norms around what is considered ‘productive’ are very different here. They think Americans are insane for how much work they are always expected to be able to do. We take 2 hour lunches at bistros and drink wine. It took me a year to get a health card, and nobody cared.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We take 2 hour lunches at bistros and drink wine.

        I think I need to move again… :)

    2. Violetta*

      I’m also non-French in France and this isn’t a thing were I work, but I work for a huge company with a global presence, so maybe it just fell out of use here. Thank god, because it would drive me insane.

      Any official correspondence though… ugh.

      Je vous prie d’agréer l’expression de mes salutations distinguées,

    3. Reality Check*

      I had remarked above that I had a specific culture on my suspect list, and yes it was French. While I’ve never worked in France, I have noticed in my travels there that if I mess something up etiquette -wise, they are quick to point it out.

      1. Kiss Off*

        Aha! That makes sense after I saw a YouTube about how ubiquitous, time consuming, and unavoidable the obligatory (double, don’t skimp, arriving and leaving) cheek kiss is in France, even in business settings. This sounds like the e-mail extension of that.

    4. Melissa*

      It’s always fascinating when you live in different countries and have to work with this stuff! I lived in Japan for a while. No decision– noooooo decision– can be made without hours and hours of discussions that go in circles. Nobody at any level will ever go, “Okay, I see there’s disagreement here, so I’m going to call it and we’ll do XYZ.” As an American– and also as a person with an impatient temperament!– it drove me insane. But of course, their perspective was that the US way of doing it is far too abrupt and that decisions made in the US style are poorly-thought-out.

      1. Melissa*

        Replying to myself in order to clarify: I think the only thing you do in these situations is accept a “When in Rome” approach. Whether it’s in a foreign country, or just an odd business in your own country, I don’t think it’s worth trying to change it for your own comfort (and for what you consider reasonable). You just go “Oh boy, I see how it’s done here, I suppose I can deal with it.”

    5. Claire New*

      I’m French and works in France, and this is not my experience at all. The level of formality varies between colleagues, without any obvious pattern.
      So it varies widely even in the same country, I think it depends a lot on the entreprise culture. My firm is a big, established one, with a reputation of being set in its way.

    6. Aerin*

      I have all kinds of reasons for hating and avoiding ChatGPT… but I would absolutely use it for this sort of thing. Either that or have like 8 different MadLibs templates and cycle through them.

  35. Phony Genius*

    The only valid reason I can think of for requiring “you’re welcome” emails is so that the recipient who said “thank you” knows for sure that you know that they have received the information. (From the “I want to be sure that you’re sure” line of thinking.) It’s a stretch at best.

    1. Polly Hedron*

      OK … let’s say that the “thank you” writer is Thalia and the “you’re welcome” writer is Yolanda and let’s stretch to say that it’s valid that Yolanda replies “you’re welcome” (so Thalia knows that Yolanda knows that Thalia received the information).

      But then Thalia should reply, “Oh, no really, that was extra special!” (so Yolanda knows that Thalia knows that Yolanda knows that Thalia received the information).

      And Yolanda should reply “you’re welcome again!” (so Thalia knows that Yolanda knows that Thalia knows that Yolanda knows that Thalia received the information) …. [/s]

      Where would the stretching stop?

  36. DivergentStitches*

    Similarly, how to push back on not going “Thanks!” after someone answers your question in a Teams chat – because it invariable results in a “You’re welcome!” and honestly, I’m Autistic/ADD and it’s EXTREMELY distracting to have “ping ping pingpingpingping” going off in my headset when it’s just people saying “thanks” and “yw” to each other

    1. Storm in a teacup*

      I find using the thumbs up sufficient and I’ve set my teams chat settings so those don’t alert and if I am doing focused work I just stick on do not disturb. It’s helped a lot

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      but why the pings? I hate pings (except alarms I set for myself because adhd/forgetful, and those are on my phone anyway) and I turn them ALL off. (I also turn off the thing where an email flashes in the corner of the screen for an instant. Too! Much! Screen! Distraction!)

    3. SarahKay*

      It might depend on your company, but I turned off *all* the pings from Teams, with the exception of the ringing sound when someone is calling me, since computers pinging (even if via a headset) drives me up the wall.
      Other than the ringing sound for incoming calls the only noise I permit my computer to make is the noise when I empty the recycle bin, since I do rather love the ‘paper-scrunching’ noise, and that one is directly under my control.

    4. Michelle Smith*

      I find this really distracting too! I keep everything muted, but that might not work if you’re expected to respond right away to pings directed at you.

  37. DirrtyPop*

    I had the exact opposite office I worked at over a decade ago. The higher ups were receiving too many thank you emails and enacted a policy that went something like this:
    Many staffers have noted that thank you emails clutter their inboxes and make it difficult to find the items they requested/delivered. Please apply the following email practices to minimize redundancy:
    – If you receive a request by email, please reply in the same email thread when it is completed.
    – Do not send a thank you email if your request is fulfilled.
    – If you absolutely must thank your colleagues, do so either through instant message, by phone, or get up and go to their desks.

    1. Anne Shirley*

      I had a similar experience with a company that heavily relied on freelancers. A manager sent an email instructing freelancers to only respond to his emails if they had questions or concerns and to stop thanking him.

    2. Coverage Associate*

      Yes. My old job wasn’t so strict, but we were expressly asked not to Reply All with Thank Yous. So we would never have the additional people asking about internal “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” emails. We could assume they had been sent/received by the 2 people immediately involved.

      For emails from outside the organization, I do sometimes copy people on the “We have received your documents and begun our review” emails, but that is to let them know I have downloaded them (and they don’t have to) and there were no problems. Sometimes they weren’t copied on the email sending the file, so my cc is their first information we got them.

  38. DB Cooper*

    Putting my malicious compliance hat on, I’d probably be learning how to write “thank you” and “you’re welcome” in a LOT of different languages, and use a different one each time.

    I’d also start responding to the “your welcome” emails with, “No, YOU’RE welcome!” for a while.

    But my low tolerance for ridiculousness (like this email policing business) and my extensive work experience in places with extremely warped norms led me to escape and start my own business a couple of years ago. So don’t do anything I say, probably. :-)

    Sorry you’re dealing with this, OP.

  39. Sassenach*

    In my industry we have a specific very busy time of year that lasts 3-4 months. During that time, various departments we interact with frequently send one email to everyone essentially stating “we know you are thankful. please do not tell us as to keep email volume low and work moving forward”. Personally I love that approach.

  40. Dustin the Wind*

    I worked very closely with a number of European and Asian companies and found that just sending a smiling emoji did the trick with the folks I had a somewhat friendly relationship with. Please note I started doing this when I noticed my British counterparts would always do this to close the loop. Also, getting that emoji always made me smile.

    What I really hate is those emails with a return receipt requested. Sometimes I just “forget”.

    1. Another Week*

      It’s not always monitoring. I had an email name change years ago (US Fed) and some of my messages got misdirected for years, coming and going. I just wanted to know if my mail was getting to who it was supposed to, so I used the return receipt function. Nothing nefarious at all. Still don’t think it’s fully fixed.

  41. merula*

    I’ve seen a couple mentions of Signatures and emojis, but if you’re using the desktop version of Outlook and are typing in an email anyway, you may want to try Quick Parts.

    The next time you write something in an email you want to use often, highlight it and then go to the Text section of the Ribbon to Quick Parts and click “Save Selection to Quick Parts”. Name it to a 4+ character key you can type and click OK.

    The next time you type that key, your Quick Parts selection will come up, and you can just hit Enter to insert it.

    For me, I type “hope” to get “Hope this helps, let me know if you need anything else!”, or a couple of other things for items I tend to explain often.

    For the OP, maybe they type “blah” to get “You are very welcome, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.” Is it still annoying to get those TY emails and have to reply? Absolutely. But now it’s 5 keystrokes and send.

  42. Kate*

    Create an email signature with “you’re welcome!” in it and just click to drop it in.

    That’s what I do with rote responses that drive me up the wall but are needed as social grease.

  43. Ahnon4Thisss*

    I personally do not think this is the hill to die on, and this likely comes from cultural differences between Americans and Europeans. I would set up a signature that allows you to reply to these easily.

    Is it annoying? Yes, but it seems to be the company culture no matter how annoying it is.

  44. Claire New*

    I’d try to answer to colleagues inquiring whether you closed the loop with #4 with a prolix and overly effusive message along the lines of “thank you so much for raising the point to me. Indeed I did not acknowledge email #3. I understand your concern that our partners may find themselves confused by the absence of an answer. “ etc etc
    Only if they are your peers though, that wouldn’t apply to your boss. For her I’d think a direct conversation, as suggested by Alison, is the best move.

  45. Liisa*

    Did anyone else think of the Good Place? “Here’s some champagne for you for thanking me for thanking you for thanking me for thanking you for thanking me for the email you sent me.”

    OP, I think you’re right that this is absurd, but you may have to ask yourself if this is the hill you want to die on because it seems unlikely that you’ll be able to get the culture to change in any significant way.

  46. Just Here for the Cake*

    I’m having flashbacks to when I worked in customer service and had to do similar things with thank you emails we received from customers. However, that was mostly because our system wouldn’t allow you to close tickets until you replied in some way, and managers wanted us to get credit for any work we did. Outside of that tightly controlled, micromanaged environment, I don’t understand why this is needed.

    1. Arthenonyma*

      I was actually wondering if there’s some sort of behind the scenes ticketing system or metric that works this way. It really smacks of “you (service provider) cannot tick this task off unless you’ve had the last word and demonstrated that the customer has nothing else to ask”.

  47. GMN*

    Are you in some industry thats safety critical or similar? Could this be an established communication guideline, almost like how you communicate via radio between vessels at sea, or between a plane and flight control?

    So emails 3 and 4 are “over” and “over and out”? Just wildly speculating here, but that’s the only way I can make any sense of it at all.

  48. Jiminy Cricket*

    I am most baffled by the folks who were CC’ed. This request was explicitly not for you. Assume your (senior!) colleague has it handled and butt out. Worry about the requests for you in your own inbox.

  49. umami*

    Seems like the easiest path is to … just do it? Set up a signature reply for ‘closing the loop’, rather than continuing conversations about how you’ve already addressed it but used different language. It’s weird, but not super-weird, it’s one of those instances where it’s easier to mimic the convention used at your workplace than to try to change it or get people to see that you have essentially done what is being asked, just in your own way. That seems more troublesome and potentially irksome to your colleagues, so why bother?

  50. Boof*

    LW if you
    1) are not high up enough in the company to enact policy changes and
    2) have already told your boss you think #4 email is unnecessary and wastes a significant part of your time, but boss has clearly told you to do it

    you’re probably stuck / probably better off just making an email template that autofires #4 off than attempting to continue to dodge it, which seems to result in everyone else in the org reminding you to do it / more work in the end then just doing it.

    Doesn’t see like a hill worth dying on, does seem like it’s worth raising to whatever higher ups you can reach (is there a grandboss? are there occ town halls / org wide reviews and feedback requests?) and i would focus on eliminating #4 before you start to push back on #3

  51. Workfromhome*

    Are you able to use the Microsoft Power Automate feature? I know not every company allows it but you can create a “flow” that will basically send an email template based on key words and other functions. This is a step beyond creating a quick to send template but might be worth the work. You could create a flow so that if an email comes from the people in the goups you deal with that contains Thank You that an automated email is generated with their name that says Thank you.

    2: Me: Sure, here’s the prepared document.
    3: Colleague: Thank you very much!
    4 Automated response You are welcome

    Yes its possible that it won’t be perfect and there might be an occasion where they get a slightly ODD email “Hey we are sending a Thank You card to Joe. Response You are welcome. But the complaint Hey OP doesn’t “close the loop with you are welcome should disappear. They will get a You are welcome every time.

    2. If that’s not an option, you could try setting up automatic replies (only to your organization) so they basically get an email that says Thank you for your email EVERY single time someone emails you. A little malicious compliance can go a long way.

    1. Random Dice*

      Ah thanks, I knew there had to be a way but didn’t find one through Outlook. I forgot that Flow even existed.

  52. Hiring Mgr*

    Sounds annoying but just do it at this point, since you’ve already pushed back with no success

  53. DameB*

    Oh god, this feels familiar. I work for a mostly British team and the hardest thing for me to adjust to was the formality of it. Not quite this dire (though I have been gently chastised for a few things here and there) but little things. Like where I’d normally pop into teams and say “Hey, how many teapots are on the line?” they want me to open with “Good afternoon Coworker. I hope you’re well?” and then wait for a response and maybe do some small talk before asking my question.

    If I just say “how many teapots”, the Brits will respond with “hello Dame B! How are you?” and then seem to deliberately draw out the small talk before answering my questions.

    I’ve succumb but i’m not senior at all.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oh this gives me flashbacks to IM chats with some of my former colleagues. (Oddly, mostly offshore – is it also a cultural thing?)

      CW: Good morning, Bathroom
      I: Good morning, CW
      (long pause)
      CW: How are you doing?
      I: I’m fine, thank you
      (looong pause)
      CW: I am doing fine as well, thank you for asking.
      (loong pause, CW is typing)
      (CW finally tells me what they need, half an hour into the convo. At no point during the half-hour do I have any clue of what they need, or have a chance to start putting that thing together for them. Sometimes it’s a small, low priority ask, other times it ends up being big and/or urgent.)

      I found that heading this off at the pass with a “good morning, CW, what can I help you with?” worked 99% of the time.

    2. I edit everything*

      Oh! I have a British client, and they do this all the time. I’m never sure if they really want an answer or if it’s ok to get fown to business.

    3. CR*

      I had a manager (not British) who used to always open with “Hello CR, how are you?” in Teams chat every single time she had a question or comment. Even if it was a one second question. Just ask me!

    4. Jen RO*

      I learned (after a few years!) that this is the way to go with my French coworkers. They must’ve thought I was so rude by just saying “hi, can I ask you about X”. (I’m in Romania and the vast majority of my coworkers go straight to the point.)

    5. londonedit*

      I’m British and no one would say ‘Good afternoon Coworker, I hope you’re well?’ where I work – but you’re right, we don’t just jump straight into a conversation with ‘Hey how many teapots do we need?’. That would definitely come off as abrupt, if not rude. Bear in mind, though, that ‘how are you?’ doesn’t actually need a response here – it’s just something you say so as not to crash right in with a request. You say ‘Morning! Hope all’s well with you. I just wondered whether the final teapot numbers have been confirmed yet?’

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        That’s where I fall myself (adding a simple greeting before the request, but in the same message). We had a VP whose idea of following up on tasks was leaving a comment saying just “STATUS?” and she became legendary for that pretty quickly.

  54. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    This is so far out there to me. Where I work, everyone from the lowest management level and up, as well as everyone on the business side of things (account management, product owners, scrum masters…) are drowning in emails and would not appreciate an additional few dozen “you’re welcome”s showing up in their inbox every day. I can see where “thank you” would tell the recipient that you did get the email and it is what you had requested, so it’s all good. But anything beyond that?

    Side note, I’m so happy that most of my work interactions these days are in Teams where you can “thumbs up” react a message and it will act as a “thank you” or “I got this”. So much less time spent cleaning the inbox.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Adding to the above, my advice would be to suck it up since the workplace seems oddly attached to this process. Just allocate more time to cleaning the inbox, so that important information doesn’t get lost in the sea of the “you’re so very welcome” emails, and that you don’t run out of storage space if that’s an issue where you work. Then log the time as admin or whatever, assuming you have to log time. Heck I’d even set a “busy” time on my calendar weekly for this cleanup. If your coworkers love sending and receiving spam so much, they should be also okay with the fact that the spam needs to be taken care of.

  55. Exhausted*

    My organization was very “Thank you!” focused when I joined seven years ago. I abhor thank you emails. I receive between 70-250 emails every day. I would need an assistant just to keep up with thank yous. So I don’t do them. I ignore them when I receive them. Early days, people who reach out to confirm I got something and I would say “Yes, I received it.” My only exception to this policy is when I’m asking a favor that is out of someone’s regular responsibilities, in which case I write a sincere and thoughtful thank you and makes sure to compliment them to their boss. When I ask someone for something that is their job to produce, I do not thank them. Just like I don’t expect/need/want to be thanked for doing my job. My paycheck is my thanks.

  56. Lavender*

    I noticed this sort of thing when I attended grad school in the UK. (I’m American.) I typically send “thank you” emails to let the sender know I’ve received whatever they sent me, but I wasn’t accustomed to getting “you’re welcome” emails in response!

  57. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Oh man, IT departments hate people like this. Thanks for cluttering up the server backups with extraneous emails.

    And I’m English where it’s normal to say ‘sorry’ or ‘thank you’ a LOT!

    But there isn’t an easy solution to this – weird though it is – because the people who expect this level of response aren’t going to change their mind. I guess unless you can engineer a large distribution list, wait for a massive influx of reply-all comments from your coworkers and endure the resultant slap down from IT when you knacker an exchange server with tens of thousands emails? (Okay, BOFH mode a bit there).

    I’d say, annoying though it is, just accept it. Sorry!

  58. Peanut Hamper*

    This is the kind of thing email templates were created for.

    Create a template, pull it up, add the recipient, and send.

    Mind you, you still have to create and send the email, but at least the body can be filled already with a very generic message. It will save you some time in the long run.

  59. Cherries Jubilee*

    Thank you emails- a good button to close the conversation.

    You’re welcome emails – no, what, don’t be absurd.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      Yeah your welcome emails don’t make sense unless you were adding more context. Like “Your Welcome. I’m out of the office for the next 2 weeks but Sarah is covering, so let her know if you run into problems.”

      The only time I would send a Your Welcome email is if it was to someone higher up that I don’t work with on a daily basis, or it was a situation that was odd or difficult and I was being extra nice to help the situation.

  60. Thatoneoverthere*

    I worked somewhere that had crazy company policies surrounding emails. To the point that they asked you if you thought you could adhere to them in your phone screen.

    1. You must respond to every email by EOB, unless it came in like the last hour of your day.
    2. You must put up an out of office every day after you leave. Saying sorry I am left the office for the day I will return tomorrow, July 27th at 8am.
    3. You must respond to every single you receive no matter what. My question was when does it end?
    Here are the files you requested
    Thank you
    No, Thank you
    No, no, thank you
    Etc etc

    I won’t lie I stopped changing my out of office every night. I had such a low position that no one cared. I couldn’t be bothered to care for $13.00 an hour.

    1. JustaTech*

      This is bananas!
      And what on earth did your IT department think of you responding to spam emails? (Or did the Powers That Be have the sense to not ask you to reply to *those* emails?)

      And an out of office every evening, what kind of people were sending you emails that they would be confused by people not instantly responding to emails in the middle of the night?

  61. antiqueight*

    Can’t one of the cc’d workers be designated diplomat for the team with the role of following up your action to ensure everyone is happy after the reply email (#2) is sent.
    aka 2: here is the template. Sarah will be on hand to respond to any general questions.
    and then Sarah waits for and responds to the thank you email – or in the absence of a thank you checks that they got and understood the email. It’s extra work that shouldn’t be needed but it fulfils the needs of this group.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      I don’t know if that would work. It sounds like the communication is for the the OP and the other person sending it and they just CC the other folx for knowledge or maybe they are backup.

      I wonder, do they expect the CC’d people to respond too.
      Regardless that is taking time for the other folx to respond.

  62. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

    > 4: Me: You are very welcome, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.

    LW, how about if this bit just said “You’re welcome” and no more?

  63. Echo*

    I know this is making a huge assumption based on one single experience, but the only coworker I had who communicated this way (and would get concerned/frustrated when others didn’t) was indeed from the EU, Ireland specifically. I do wonder if it is a cultural norm!

    1. Cherrytree*

      As an English person in a predominantly American company I do agree with you that culture comes into play here. I am frequently jolted by what to me read like rude demands from people who don’t then even say thank you.

      And then I’m sure on the other side my co-workers are thinking “WTF is this time waste of a request, why can’t she just get on with it instead of asking me how I am and all that nonsense.”

    2. Firecat*

      Yes and I’ve also experienced the opposite. When I’m discussing items with any Nordic colleagues, I find dropping even the sentence at the beginning saying – I hope you have had a great week – and getting straight to the request and timeline really results in better response times and happier colleagues.

      Meanwhile discussions with my German coworkers are very structured with 10% of the meeting spent on personal chit chat with, what feels to me, a sudden inorganic shift to business, followed by about 2% at the end back to personal chit chat before wrapping up.

      1. Jiminy Cricket*

        I’ve experienced that sudden Germanic shift in meetings! “Okay. Okay, we have discussed the weather and vacation plans. That is done. Now we have some questions about your proposal.”

      2. allathian*

        That happens in my org as well, and I’m in Finland. It doesn’t bother me, because I do like to chat a bit first, especially because we’re still mostly remote and I enjoy connecting with my coworkers on a slightly more personal level at work, even if I don’t particularly want to spend time with them outside of work.

      3. Random Dice*

        That’s so fascinating! My interactions in Germany have been social, but I at work definitely would have expected them to get straight to the point no floofing around. So interesting!

        1. Zweisatz*

          I’m German and I’ve done that because it’s my preference, but then I’ve acclimated to my (German) company and yeah it’s handled as described.

          The advantage though is that you can say “Hi, hope you had a great weekend. Quick question about…” and it’s not rude. If I write somebody via chat in the middle of the week I shorten it to “hi” + question.

    3. Lis*

      I’m Irish and working in Ireland and honestly if a co-worker based in Ireland expected this I’d think they were very weird. I also worked with co-workers in the USA, Germany, Switzerland and China and customers in all European countries, Canada, Japan and Australia and never came across this sort of expectation. Like my boss *might* message/email me privately to check did I send something out but not on cc:all and none of my co-workers would check especially if they were copied on the response.

  64. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

    Another thing to when you talk to your boss is to explicitly explain how much time this takes away from other tasks. Since this seems to happen almost daily I bet it will add up. For a couple of weeks keep track on how many times you have to respond to this; ow often they pressure you to respond; and how often it takes your focus away from other, more important tasks. I bet if you showed them the numbers it will be surprising.

    I also want to know if they are wanting immediate response or what? Like if you waited a few hours do they rush after you or is it like a couple of days later?

  65. Awkwardness*

    Why not combine answer 2+4?

    Whenever I provide information fo somebody I am not too familiar with, who is more senior or outside the organisation, I send the mail, explain everything, attach my documents and have a closing sentence that they should not hesitate to contact me if any questions were open. This makes completely clear that I view the matter as closed and any further steps are on their side.

    1. Awkwardness*

      I think there is also some practical aspect to it. You clarify that you would be the person to answer additional questions as opposed to a colleague who will only send information but is not eqipped/has the capacity to offer further help.

  66. Workfromhome*

    If your boss doesn’t seem to want to help with this maybe put him in the TO box (not just CC ) him on every You are welcome close the loop email you send. You know just so he knows you are closing the loop.

    Maybe keep a little spreadsheet count :
    Thank you emails in and Your welcome emails out. Just so you can share it at end of the month to show you close the loop on every email.

  67. Elizabeth West*

    Should I start sending a boilerplate or automatic response?

    LOL malicious compliance, I love it. This is probably what I would do. >:)

  68. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I’m thinking we need an email and office etiquette article and that Alison should write it!

  69. theletter*

    The malicious Compliant in me would suggest saving all the unacknowledged thank you/your welcome emails in a folder, and when someone asks why you didn’t respond, take a few minutes to respond to each one, cc’ing everybody, with a very generic reply. I would think that as each person gets the new email ding every few seconds for a few minutes, and realizes they cannot possibly concentrate with all this extraneous noise, they’ll grow a more nuanced logic around email responses.

    1. AnonInCanada*

      I don’t know what that would accomplish, other than annoying colleagues who have no horse in this race. Their focus of contempt may be upon you, the malicious compliant, rather than the one making a stink about you not “closing the loop.”

  70. Mel*

    Oof! That’s a pet peeve of mine. I work in a customer service environment where as much, if not more, of our customer interaction is by email as it is phone, namely because it’s important for us to have a paper trail. When I finish dealing with a customer they very often close the loop with a return email saying thank you. On the one hand, I appreciate the gratitude and the courtesy. On the other hand, I’m dealing with a very high volume of emails every day and the cumulative time and effort involved in opening all these emails, only to see that all they’re saying is thank you, could be better spent actually doing my job. It’s very frustrating.

  71. Cookie Monster*

    I’m so confused as to even why lateral colleagues are checking in with you about your job performance in the first place. Don’t they have their own work to focus on? Why are they monitoring you like this? It’s so weird and, frankly, kind of insulting and condescending.

    1. *kalypso*

      Likely because they need to know whether they have more work to do given they’re on the email as well.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        You mean like if the original requester asked for something else? Wouldn’t they see that too since they’re also on the email? The original requester doesn’t need someone to say “let me know if you need something else!” before making another request.

  72. Nom*

    This is fascinating. I’m a big proponent of the Thank You email to close the loop, and would coach someone very new to the workforce to do it, as Alison notes. But this goes wayyyyy beyond that to the point where I wonder if LW is missing something key? I can’t imagine what it would be but this can’t be normal behavior!

  73. JP*

    This is also potentially my antisocial nature, but I get so many emails that I get annoyed by “thank you!” responses.

  74. AnonInCanada*

    If your colleagues are that pedantic about closing the loop, there’s one easy solution: create a boilerplate signature that you can respond with. I have several of them in my Outlook for canned phrases to acknowledge a client’s order, or request for commonly asked for information. I just find the appropriate signature, and CTRL-ENTER it goes.

  75. ParseThePotatoes*

    This is, as others have written, as much of a cultural thing as it is a business habit – so your chances of being able to successfully push back, let alone change the culture, are slim. Doubly so, now that your manager has told you explicitly to do this.
    I would recommend, if you still want to spend the political capital on it, is to make a case for how and why this negatively affects you. Saying “I don’t like this” or “I think this is silly and wasteful”, while true (and is true for me as well), isn’t going to win over your manager.
    The points I would argue for are that the formality of the email process will negatively impact your workflow – having to read each response as it comes in, in order to determine “Do I have to do more work for them or not?” breaks you out of your ‘technical’ mindset, and that context switching breaks your stride (and makes you less efficient, and take longer to handle new requests, etc etc etc).
    Or, you can check with your manager, see if you can just dedicate a block of time at the end of each day to go through the ‘politeness motions’, and respond to all that day’s replies at the end of the day. (Whether or not you alert them to the risk that it could push your handling of “We need more work” responses to the next day is up to you.)

  76. Coin_Operated*

    “No, I didn’t send a “you’re welcome” response because I’m swamped over here. “I’ll see about deligating some of my workload over to you with boss since you have so much free time as to be concerned about micromanaging my email etiquette. ” – Yeah, be that petty and direct.

  77. hex*

    So, worst case scenario a simple email exchange could go into infinity if you get two coworkers that go “Thank you for your reply” at each other?

  78. Arglebargle*

    I CANT STAND THIS. I work in healthcare and am frequently asked for lab results, chart notes, refills, forms, referrals etc. by email; my policy is to let all nonemergent emails pile up until lunch, when I address them. It stresses me OUT to see a lot of emails in my inbox, and when people are emailing me back with just “thank you” it literally drives me completely insane and bonkers. I’m sure I am seen as terse but oh well sorry about it. I trust that if the emailer didn’t get what they asked for they would email me again. I don’t need thanks. I just need LESS EMAILS.

  79. not a hippo*

    I’m having the opposite problem. I can’t get people (my boss) to answer me back with important/time sensitive answers. If I ask her if she got the email or if she needs anything else, I get completely blown off.

    Sometimes people need you to acknowledge you’ve gotten the info or are doing something with it. Sucks because you’re senior and obviouslyyou’ve got it in hand, but Cheryl in Receiving don’t care, she needs that answer you’re sitting on.

  80. MCMonkeyBean*

    It would be odd enough to me if people were following up on *their own* emails asking you to close the loop. It’s SO WEIRD to me that so many of your coworkers would reach out to ask if you have responded to *someone else’s* “Thank you.”

    The easiest path for you may be to just give in and go along to get along, but this is so odd that I would not blame you if you decided you really want to die on this hill.

  81. JustMe*

    In defense of the other colleagues, if this is a remote office, it’s not *completely* unreasonable that they would want a quick thank you message to confirm that you’ve received the communication. Annoying, yes, but I can see it, especially when there are multiple nationalities/cultures here.

    My husband works for a multinational company and he runs into things like this as well. I always, always, always advocate for cultural competency training in these kinds of environments–knowing why and how people communicate makes a big difference and can help navigate this. Even if you don’t LIKE that, say, the Albanian team always needs to continue the conversation past when it’s necessary, understanding that they do it in order to, for example, build camaraderie and trust and ensure that everyone is on the same page can make it easier to manage. You can even then say things like, “Hey folks, I know this is the norm for you, and I get it, but that’s not how it operates here in my US office. Please know what when I do xyz, it’s not a slight–it means abc.”

    1. Rebelx*

      Yeah, I was wondering about the cultural aspect here, not in the sense of office culture but like, national cultures. LW mentions a large percentage of coworkers are in the EU… are they from a variety of countries or a couple of specific ones? If it’s the former, then it’s more likely this is a weird thing particular to the organization, but if it’s the latter, well, different countries have all kinds of different norms and expectations around communication and etiquette. Something might genuinely be a faux pas to people from that country, even if from a US point of view it seems excessive/unnecessary/annoying/fake/what have you.

      I’m from the US but I’ve worked in international contexts my entire career, and I’m of the opinion that, in general, if the majority of people I’m communicating with in a particular context are from Country X, I should at least make a good faith effort to adapt to Country X’s communication norms, insofar as I am aware of such differences. Generally, I’ve found that people are pretty chill about these things – they know I’m from a different background and don’t expect me to know all the nuances of their culture. However, if someone told me “FYI here in Country X it’s considered polite to always send a ‘you’re welcome’ email”, and I refused to do so because, as someone from the US, it seemed unnecessary to me, I can imagine how people might become frustrated because now they know that I know the etiquette, yet I’m choosing to be impolite.

  82. Lizy*

    I worked for a company for about 4 weeks about 10ish years ago. The owner/boss insisted that EVERY EMAIL was responded to, even if just a “thank you”. Drove me bonkers. I still think about that and thank the stars and gods that no one since then has been that cray-cray.

    But yeah – I’d definitely start responding to these requests with “it’s handled”.

  83. Rainy*

    I’m exhausted just reading about the requirement to respond to literally every email regardless of need. I honestly don’t know how the LW has managed for this long without snapping.

  84. Green great dragon*

    You don’t need a template, you need autocorrect, so every time you type BananasOffice it will automatically ‘correct’ it to

    ‘You are very welcome! I hope you find it satisfactory but please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be any further help.

    Stay golden,


  85. Rick Tq*

    If I was in this situation I’d think long and hard about automating the #4 response. If you have a common keyword in your #2 message and a frequent set of responses in #3 then an email rule to move the #3s to a specific folder and reply back with a boilerplate message after a slight delay might work..

    Do you at least have a standard that only people on the To: line have to do this cycle, or is it (Oh I hope not) everyone in the distribution? Email overload is one of the reasons I have a rule to move anything I am CCd on out of my inbox for review and trained my coworkers to use CC when it is an information only message.

  86. Toothpaste*

    Referring all lovers of novels to page 2 of the brilliant opening of Joshua Ferris’s office satire, THEN WE CAME TO THE END:

    “We thanked each other. It was customary after every exchange. Our thanks were never disingenuous or ironic. We said thanks for getting this done so quickly, thanks for putting in so much effort. We had a meeting and when a meeting was over, we said thank you to the meeting makers for having made the meeting.”

  87. KB*

    LW please make sure to provide us an update in a few months! I’m absolutely befuddled and entertained by this story.

  88. Julie*

    I worked in an environment like this and it drove me nuts! I started using an auto reply that said “thanks for sending” when certain people emailed me and it worked! Stupid people want stupid things so just give it to them until you find something else!

  89. Jessica*

    Reply to the you’re welcome email with “No problem!” and then insist they follow-up to which you follow-up until they get fed up with you. Alternatively tell your boss you’re concerned the workload is too light since everyone has time to write 10-20 thank you emails all the time.

    (Okay maybe don’t do either of those!)

    1. Sophia*

      Oh no! Don’t use the dreaded “No Problem”. Apparently that implies it IS a problem when it is your job!

      1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        Only to a very paranoid, insecure, or “looking for things to react to” person. It’s such a common turn of phrase, it isn’t literal.

  90. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    You mention your colleagues being Europeans but I’m fairly sure it would considered bizarre in many, if not most, European contexts too. (I’m in the UK and we aren’t in the EU anymore but I do work with a lot of European individuals and organisations, and I have never, ever encountered this.

    Some cultural differences make sense in one context but run into issues when you translate them into a different context. But this makes no sense anywhere. It’s SO astonishingly inefficient that I have to wonder what else the organisation does in terms of resource management.

  91. Fae Kamen*

    I seem to remember an episode of Barney I saw when I was just a wee Fae. Barney was teaching the kids how to say “thank you.” One kid said, “And thank you for saying thank you!” The other kid said, “Thank you for saying thank you for my thank you!” Barney cut them off and explained that once was enough or we would go back and forth forever.

    Your office needs to watch Barney.

  92. Rusty*

    I’m stealing this from a good friend’s email sign-off, but I think it’s brilliant, ethical, environmentally conscious & would nip this problem in the bud:

    “Please note that I am trying not to send unnecessary replies. ‘Thank you’ emails account for tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Sending just one less each day can help save 16,400 tonnes of CO2 per year.”

    *Chef’s kiss*

  93. Jen*

    I have a different perspective. As a project manager I look for the thank yous to indicate the response I gave provided them with the info needed and the issue/request/risk is now closed otherwise I will follow up. The your welcome likely confirms to the entire team that this item is now resolved to all parties satisfaction. I would ask the original writer to understand their environment and adapt to it.

    1. Awkwardness*

      I would also try to understand if the focus was on thanking the other person or on offering additional support. Maybe it is seen as especially important to be seen as helpful or accessible (because this team or org has historically a somewhat different reputation?).

      I thought yesterday about a letter here that discussed “How are you? – Thank you, fine. And you? – Fine!” as an cultural expectation that signals acknowledgement of the other person. To me this still feels hollow, as I would expect a genuine answer if I was asking. But I accept that Americans and British have a different understanding and I follow along accordingly. The email acknowledgment seems somewhat comparable. You will not change the culture and will be easier if you have at least an idea what they are going for.

  94. Anonymous2023*

    I work for a Japanese company and this is the expectation. It’s considered extremely rude to not respond to literally every single email in the same way OP described. Each email also has to be very formal with greeting that includes correct titles and a very formal ending.

    I’m sort of used to it now but it drives me insane because if something that didn’t require a response doesn’t get answered, my manager will inevitably hear about it and it’s usually brought up during 1:1 or PRP so it often feels like career movement is being held hostage by these emails.

  95. CountryLass*

    In my job its usually
    “can you send me X?”
    Sure, here you go”
    “no worries”

    I think that the ‘thank you’ has to be there to acknowledge it has been received (and that you did what was asked) but the reaching out to offer extra help? No, that seems a bit OTT. And I only send the “no worries/no problem/you’re welcome” as an acknowledgement to some people, not to every person, and it’s usually just clients!

  96. Zee*

    In your scenario if I were #1 and coworker was #2 I had coworkers who would get up out of their chair to walk around our rabbit warren of an office to come see me in person if I didn’t send a thank you. I hate the thank yous cluttering up my inbox unless I have really gone above and beyond for a request, I don’t expect it, but these people obviously did. So I created a quick action in outlook that replies with “thank you” and auto sends it. It was the best way to prevent the inevitable interruption an hour later when they think their email didn’t work so they come to check. Even though they’re gone, I have still found a few people that need the additional validation of the thank you, so I use it to keep the peace.

  97. Raida*

    This would drive me nuts.

    I’d start phrasing my emails with the offer of help in them to cut off one email like:

    “Hi Raida, can you provide me wit Template?”
    “Hi Jesse, sure can! Please find attached Template. Just let me know if you need anything else, cheers -Raida”

    and if someone asked me if I’d reached out to double-check I’d tell them I have complete confidence in Jesse’s ability to tell me if there’s any issues, and I’ve certainly made it clear I’m happy to help. I’m going to have faith in Jesse’s capabilities until proven otherwise, and I hope Jesse feels the same.

    And if it happened a lot, I’d say to *their* boss “I am concerned by the amount of time and energy spent worrying that professionals are following up with other professionals – it’s like anxious Mums worried their kids haven’t had lunch yet. Is this something you can address? I don’t want your staff burnt out spending their mental energy on trying to be the personal assistant to everyone!”

  98. ThePublicMakesMeHatePeople*

    “So do you deliver your own mail, or do you have your own mailperson? But then who delivers his mail? Is there a neverending chain of mailmen delivering mail to other mailmen? Well, I guess a P.O. box could in theory break the chain.” -SpongeBob SquarePants

    As a restaurant manager I am of course biased as to how often SpongeBob shows up IRL!

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