When your boss sends you birthday wishes, it shows that he is interested in you as a person outside of work issues. Therefore, the answer does not have to be formal.
Respond to “Happy Birthday” from your boss with a thank you followed by some appreciation for thinking of you. For example, “Thank you so much, that’s very kind of you to think of me.”
Keeping the balance between a working relationship and a personal one doesn’t have to be a challenge. The relationship you have with them can influence how you respond.
Short and Simple
It is nice of your boss to send you birthday greetings and it should be acknowledged.
You don’t have to turn it into a lengthy reply though if you have strictly a business relationship with them.
What to Say:
“I appreciate that!”
“Crazy how I always thought 50 was old until I was close to it!”
“That is very nice of you.”
“Working on my birthday isn’t so bad when I get so many well wishes!”
“Another trip around the sun with lots to look forward to. Thank you for the kind wishes, it made my day.”
If you have plans for your birthday, share them with your boss when they send you birthday wishes.
They will love hearing what you have planned to celebrate your special day.
What to Say:
“Thank you, I am excited to have dinner with my spouse tonight at my favorite seafood place.”
“I am looking forward to celebrating this weekend with my children and grandkids.”
“My husband has a surprise birthday date for us, I can’t wait to see what it is all about.”
“I love my birthday; I often hear from friends and family I don’t communicate with regularly. It is a special part of my birthday that I look forward to.”
“My sister makes the best red velvet cake from scratch, and she always brings me one for my birthday! It will be a great day!”
Let Them Know You Appreciate Them Remembering
Your boss doesn’t have to go out of their way to wish you a lovely birthday. The fact that they did so is important, and it shows they care about you beyond just the work you do.
Let them know you do appreciate them pointing it out.
What to Say:
“It is so kind of you to remember my birthday despite your busy schedule, thank you very much.”
“I appreciate the kind words and you remembering, thank you.”
“It puts a smile on my face to get birthday messages year-over-year from you.”
“I enjoy working here and under your supervision, thank you so much.”
Balancing Work and Personal Relationships
When you have a work and personal relationship with your boss, the sentiment of them sending you warm wishes can be much more meaningful to you. This can influence the way you respond to it.
A smile may be all it takes while you tell them to thank you. On the other hand, it may be time for a short conversation that doesn’t have to do with work at all.
What to Say:
“I love how we balance our work and professional relationship. Thank you for always remembering my birthday and other special days for those of us that work with you. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”
“It is hard to believe it is my birthday again and yours is just around the corner. We need to make time to have coffee or lunch and celebrate. Let me know a good time for you to do so. We could use a break from work-related discussions.”
“You are a wonderful boss and an amazing friend; I am very lucky to have you in my life. Thank you for making my birthday extra special just by remembering it. That means the world to me.”
“Let’s catch up next week and I can share with you how my birthday celebration went!”
“Thanks, and I will see you this weekend. Looking forward to you being there to help celebrate with me.”
Avoid Being Negative
Not everyone is a fan of being recognized on their birthday, but that isn’t up to your boss to figure out.
Don’t say anything negative because that can deter them from such remarks to you in the future.
Strive to stay positive about it, even if you aren’t big on celebrating your birthday. It shows professionalism and good character to do so.
For example, don’t tell them that you hate your birthday or you hate getting older. Don’t tell them that you don’t celebrate your birthday.
Simply say thank you and go about your day if you don’t have much that is positive to say about it! Try to put something positive in place though!
What to Say:
“Always thankful for being another year older and still feeling good and healthy.”
“I feel fortunate here due to the personal touches, and these lovely birthday wishes are just one more reminder of that.”
“We sure have lots of employees with birthdays this month, but these happy birthday messages still mean the world to me.”
“Thank you for remembering my birthday, and the cake in the break room to celebrate was delicious.”
Meme or Photo
If your boss sends you a birthday wish in a text message or an email, consider replying with a meme or a photo. You can also do this afterward when they congratulated you on your birthday by phone.
Make sure the meme or the photo is appropriate for a professional setting and don’t include anything that could be offensive to anyone.
Select a funny but lighthearted meme or send them a photo of you celebrating your special day.
Invite Them to Join in the Fun
If you have a personal relationship with your boss, you can consider inviting them to help you celebrate outside of the office.
If others have brought in food or a birthday cake, make sure they get a slice of it too.
What to Say:
“There is a delicious chocolate cake in my office, stop in and get a slice when you get a minute.”
“Some of us are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate at 6 pm if you would like to join us.”
“My family is hosting a BBQ Sunday for my birthday if you would like to drop by.”
“We are ordering lunch today to celebrate; would you like to join us? What can we order for you? I think there is a menu in the break room if you want to see what is offered.”
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.