John, the CEO of a sales organization, sent an email to Tim, an employee several levels below, to complement him on his performance in a recent meeting. Tim did not respond to the email.
About a week later, he was in John's office applying for an open position that would have been a promotion into a management role, when John asked him whether he had received the email. Yes, Tim said, he had. Why, John asked, hadn't he responded? Tim said he didn't see the need.
But Tim was wrong. John's email deserved, at the very least, a "thank you."
Tim didn't get the promotion. Was he passed over solely because he didn't thank John for the positive feedback? No. But was Tim's lack of response one piece of the Tim puzzle that convinced John he should choose a better candidate? Undoubtedly.
Before you accuse John of being trivial or over-sensitive, before you condemn his poor hiring judgment, consider what saying "thank you" represents.
On a basic l