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How to Respond to a Congratulatory Email

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With modern-day technology, letters offering congratulations are few and far between, but it's common to receive kudos via email. Whether you've been recognized at work or you've had a significant personal achievement that has made people reach out by email, responding properly not only shows you have manners, but also gives you the opportunity to thank those around you.

Recognition From Employer

When you receive a promotion at work, win an award or reach a specific goal, your employer might congratulate you via email. In any setting, including the workplace, being humble is a smart approach. Thank the employer for the recognition and share any anecdotes about the accomplishment. For example, say "Becoming VP of sales has been my dream since I started here 10 years ago, and I'm truly honored to have this position." Take the opportunity to give credit to those around you, noting that you're just one member of a strong team. Ensure your response uses correct grammar, spelling and style.

Kudos From Colleagues

Expect congratulatory emails from your colleagues upon being recognized at work, but be cognizant that some colleagues might not be thrilled with your honor. For example, if you were promoted, another colleague might have wanted the position. Practice humility in your response, giving credit to those around you and thanking them for their specific roles in your success. You can also assure your colleagues that despite your promotion, for example, you'll still look forward to meeting them for lunch and talking about your shared interests. Avoid unprofessional responses, such as talking about plans to get drunk to celebrate the occasion.

Family and Friends

Whether you've just gotten engaged, had a child or reached a personal goal such as losing 20 pounds, expect some congratulations via email from family and friends. Offer specific thanks, depending on the situation. For example, say that you'd have never lost weight if your friend hadn't pushed you to take a jog each morning or thank a friend who set you up with the person to whom you're now engaged. Practice humility and thank the sender for thinking of you.

Take Action

Whether you've received congratulations for a work-related or personal accomplishment, it's often an opportunity to get together with those around you and celebrate. At work, a key promotion gives you a chance to invite your immediate team for drinks, on you, after work. When addressing a personal accomplishment, use your email to suggest a get-together. For example, note that you can't wait for your college friends to meet your fiance or to show your distant family members your weight-loss results.


Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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