December 10, 2015

How Do I Respond to Happy Birthday Emails?

Just like in India, it's common for American colleagues or clients to wish each other Happy Birthday. Office birthday parties are common in both India and the US, as well. Working on distributed, global and offshore teams, many birthday, holiday and other wishes may be communicated by email. So, how can you respond to these emails? That is what this post is about to explore! 

Respond to Birthday Wishes: Dos and Don'ts 
A big no-no is not to respond. We always feel good when people remember us. If we were meeting face to face, they would see our acknowledgement, even if the only response we had was a blush or a smile. But, over the email (or phone!) silence is akin to ignoring the other person. Some feelings may get hurt if their kind gestures are not acknowledged. So, let's see a few examples on how to respond to messages wishing you a Happy Birthday! 

E-mail from Onsite: 

Manju, 

We heard your birthday is this weekend. As we won't be having a call until next week, I thought I'd drop you a line to say Happy Birthday!! Wishing you a wonderful day and year ahead! Have fun! Can't wait to hear about your celebrations! 

Regards,
Bruce 

Idea to respond #1:

Bruce,  

Hello. I received your birthday wishes. Thank you! Yes, this year I hope to go out with my family to Taj Vivanta for lunch. That is a five star hotel in Kochi with a really good Sunday brunch! Wish you also have a good weekend. 

Talk with you in the next call.
Regards,
Manju 

Idea to respond #2: 

Bruce, 

I was just about to leave for the weekend and opened your mail.At first I thought maybe you had some urgent task you wanted me to do for the project, but when I read your birthday wishes, I was both relieved and happy. I did not know you knew it was my birthday. Your wishes made my day! Thank you for sending it to me. I hope you have a good weekend. 

Regards,
Manju 

Cultural No-No (Taboo) 
Beware, while Americans are comfortable answering the question, "When is your birthday?" do not expect them to tell you their birthdate - as in age! Americans are not so open talking about their age at work. While it's better not to ask someone their birthdate or age, if they bring it up, then they are more comfortable to talk about it. 




Author, Jennifer Kumar, provides interactive sessions for offshore teams on building small talk with US and other Western onsite colleagues. Learn more about the Small Talk Training or contact us today! 

Photo credit: Lindsay at flickr (creative commons)

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