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