This title has two meanings. One is "no, thanks" as in "No, thanks; no more pizza." The other is "no thanks," as in you did someone a big favor and received in return not a single thank you. It's this second meaning I'm writing about. How good it feels to be thanked—preferably sooner rather than much, much later or not at all.
For example, several years ago a colleague asked me if I'd review the draft of her new book and offer some critique. I was happy to help. Unfortunately, although her basic message was solid, her writing was weak to the point of mushy. So I went through the manuscript and inserted numerous suggestions and comments. I sent it back to her. And then I waited. And waited. And . . . Not a word. I could have contacted her, but I was curious whether I'd ever hear from her again unprompted.
Fifteen months later, a package arrived in the mail. It was an autographed copy of what was now a very fine book. With it was a handwritten note in which she thanked me for all my help. And my name was listed in the acknowledgements. These were thoughtful gestures and I appreciated them, but I feel to this day that a more timely thank you was called for - a week or a month later, say, rather than 15 months.
This experience came to mind because I've been reflecting on the messages I occasionally receive from people asking for advice. I try to send at least a brief response. But when the issue is one I find interesting and I have the time, I respond at length.
People to whom I send these responses fall into one of three categories. The first category are the No Shows. I never hear from them again. Not a word. Though "never" may be unfair, since it's only been two years, three years, four years, so they may yet get back to me.
The second category are the Better Late Than Nevers. These people don't respond for months, often not till after they tried out my ideas and want to tell me how things turned out. At that point, they offer their thanks and appreciation. I like hearing from them. Trouble is, given the time that's passed, I had no way of knowing that I would eventually hear from them. Couldn't they have sent an immediate "thanks and I'll be in touch"?
I've often considered just not responding to these requests. If people don't appreciate my efforts, am I a fool to even bother? But then there's the third category, the Thank You Thank You Thank Yous. These people do respond. Within a short time, I hear back. And they're grateful. They're appreciative. They're thankful.
These people make it all worthwhile.
Who is waiting for a thank you from you?