Where I work, and possibly where you work, people tend to include “thanks” in almost every work-related email or instant message response. Someone files a story, he includes “thanks” in the message. Someone else responds: “Got it. Thanks.” We sign our emails, regardless of their tone or intention, with “thanks.”
Between you and me, I don’t think people really mean “thanks” most of the time in these messages. Thanks for what? For opening the email and reading it? Maybe, I guess. For adding to an already crazy workload? Probably not. I hope this type of office correspondence doesn’t lessen our sensitivity to what the word really means.
I admit I use “thanks” when what I really mean is “OK” or “bye” or “I’m exceptionally irritated and fear I’ll say something rude if I don’t stop writing now.” The culture wears off on us, I guess. However, I much more frequently am sincere. I’m fortunate enough to have colleagues who help me. They take time from their ridiculously busy schedules to explain finance concepts, to help decipher — oh, what shall we call it — troubled writing, and to help me brainstorm headline ideas. And sometimes they help me with other things. Every day I receive their help, and every day they receive my thanks.