Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

with sincere thanks

I get quite a few unsolicited emails from people who want me to do something for them, and many of those emails end with "Thank you," "Thank you for your time," "Thanks for your attention," and so on. It has never occurred to me to think that such people were doing anything inappropriate; in fact, it just seemed to me that they were being polite.

But every now and then on Twitter I discover that some people are enraged by this little quirk of manners. I don't get it. What are you supposed to say when you write to ask someone for something? They've read your email, they didn't have to — why not thank them for doing so? 

The one complaint I understand involves the phrase "thank you in advance" — which seems to presume that the addressed will do the thing that the addressees have requested. But even then, it doesn't strike me as anything to make a big deal out of.

Can anyone who is offended by being thanked in these ways explain to me why? Thank you in advance for your help.


  • Just goes to show that some people will be offended by ANYTHING.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I thank people all the time in email. I have not had anyone (directly) take offense.

  • My suspicion is that such thanks are sometimes perceived as obsequious, and therefore insincere. In a culture where everyone is expected to "sell" themselves for career and social advancement, there are bound to be those who see politeness as a form of manipulation. We're all Kevin Spacey's Francis Underwood, the thinking goes, so we might as well come clean about it and not pretend we really value the time and patience of those we seek favors from.

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