Hello, I’ve been reading this site for the last ten months and now I have just encountered a situation where I’m not sure if I was in the wrong or not…
Recently it was my sister’s birthday. I always make a point to send a card and a little something on her special day. Before her birthday, I had been recovering from bronchitis, which made going anywhere a trial due to losing my breath and my constant coughing. Therefore by the time I purchased her card, her gift (a gift certificate to a restaurant I know she would like in her city) and postage, I knew it was more than likely that the card would arrive after her birthday.
What I did was on the day of her birthday, I made sure to go onto her Facebook page to wish her a Happy Birthday. I also sent her a text wishing her a great day for her birthday (we’re not callers unless it’s an emergency, but we will text each other for quick fun messages). She texted me back with a thank you for the birthday text. A couple of days later, I got another text saying that she had received my card and gift and thank you for that.
Now the etiquette question…a few days later, I was talking to our mother, when Mom mentioned to me that my sister remarked that I did not respond to her thank you text for the card and gift. Sorry if I sound clueless, but was I suppose to? I didn’t think a made a slip up, but now I’m not sure. Do I owe my sister an apology for lack of manners? 0220-12
If you were having a face-to-face discussion and she thanks you, the polite verbal volley back to her would have been, “You are welcome.” However, in written correspondences, which includes electronic communication via texting, status updates, posting to social network walls, there is not a requirement to acknowledge written expressions of gratitude. It doesn’t hurt to acknowledge such communication with a, “You are welcome,” or “I’m glad you liked it,” but there is no etiquette mandate that says you must.
People who expect to have their gratitude acknowledged may have a need to be praised or somehow rewarded for taking the effort to fulfill a requirement etiquette does demand of them, i.e. the prompt expression of thanks upon receiving a gift. And maybe in our increasingly mannerless culture, it may appear to be a good thing to encourage more gratitude but this would be a mistake. For all we would be doing is facilitating a selfish need of others to receive external validation for an act that should have been motivated from intrinsic principles of courtesy to the generous.