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    Welcome to Authentic Journeys - ഓതെന്റിക് ജെർനീയ്സ് - US-India Cross-Cultural Training

April 7, 2020

Ways to Say Thank You or Acknowledge Someone

The importance of saying Thank You in the USA
"You can never say thank you enough!" 

When anyone asks me what is the #1 tip they can apply today in communicating and relationship building with their US counterpart, this is my answer. 

Saying "Thank You" is important in American culture. 

Thank yous can be used when someone does something nice for you or simply when you really want to acknowledge someone for doing something that may or may not impact you directly. For example, when someone does something nice for you, if they fulfilled a request for you, did something for you on time, opened the door for you when entering the store or building, or for a multitude of other things. 

In many Indians eyes, Americans over do it with the 'thank yous'. I have an Indian friend who once did something nice for me, and when I saw her next and told her how much I appreciated it, she said, 


"Why do you have to say thank you so much? It's my pleasure. We are friends!" 


Maybe in Indians eyes, saying 'thank you' is understood without being said. I have even been told the phrase 'thank you' may not come in some Indian languages or if it is the language, it's not used as frequently as you would hear it in the U.S. 

In American's eyes, however, if it is not said, it is considered rude

Whether it's your boss, colleague, stranger on the road that did something nice for you, a friend or American family member, not saying thank you for something someone else has done for you could make them think you feel entitled (maybe known as 'ego' in Kerala). So, how do we say thank you? We can simply say "thank you" or follow some tips from this post on saying thank you in emails or from the video below on how to respond to thank you in live conversation. 

See this video - How to say thank you... but ONE way you SHOULD NOT say thank you!


My suggestion is to steal their suggestion of being specific about saying what someone did for you. This shows you are really listening to their words and or behaviors and feeding them back as statements. This will really help you get on the US American's "good side." 

Some examples of saying thank you WITHOUT saying the words "thank you" are: 
  1. Shruti, I'm so happy that you could attend our webinar today to talk about your experience with getting your website made with our company. You could articulate some of our value adds in such an authentic way that I think was very compelling to the customers we are trying to attract! 
  2. I'm glad you told me you have a long three day weekend next month.. actually that falls right around the date or our first initial release. How would you like us to handle this? 
  3. Yes, we were struggling for awhile finding the exact feature for that part of your website. It's really nice you could take extra time out of your schedule to work with Sam to finally find the best solution to this problem. Now it will be easier to move on to the next phase or our project. 
  4. I'm so glad that Victoria was able to come up with another platform to use to hold our meeting on this morning. I understand we are all a little strapped for time and a little stressed due to all having to work from home during quarantine, so this really took a little stress off all our plates. 
Note: Just make sure that, especially with US Americans, the word "but" is avoided in a thank you or acknowledgement statement as it will probably negate any thanks intended to communicate. For example: 
"Thank you so much for helping me understand about all the different time zones in the US, but no one on our team is working in any US time zone right now." 

This statement would have a very similar (and sarcastic) meaning to saying "Thanks a lot for helping me learn about the US time zones." (The term "thanks a lot" was discussed in the video tutorial above.) 


Jennifer Kumar organizes programs for your offsite virtual teams to communicate and build relationships more effectively with US counterparts.

Related Posts:
How to respond to thank you 
How to impress Americans professionally 
Mistakes made by enthusiastic Indians in global teams 
Giving Thanks - Get Addicted 

Published July 2015, Updated April 2020
Picture credit: Jennifer Kumar

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.