Thank you notes are important. They acknowledge thoughtfulness, let someone know you’re thinking of them and most importantly say “Thank You.” In today’s world where being gracious and humble are not values practiced regularly, I am standing up and saying thank you notes are important! Keep reading for my reasons why and tips on writing a thank you note that will bring a tear even to Chuck Norris’s eye.
Let’s be real here: everyone likes receiving mail that isn’t junk or bills. I will also go out on a limb and say that folks generally like feeling appreciated. Saying thank you is the perfect occasion to bust out some classy note cards and express your sincere appreciation for someone else and it is going to make them smile when they open their mailbox and see something that isn’t a bill. To me, there really is no downside. But when should I send a thank you note? The short answer is: any time you feel thankful for something or someone.
Why write and send thank you notes?
1) Folks like feeling appreciated. Appreciation is priceless. You don’t need to embarrass someone and shine a spotlight on them to say thanks. A thank you note is intimate, it’s personal and (hopefully) sincere. A good thank you note will leave the recipient feeling acknowledged and appreciated and probably put them in a good mood. Pay it forward, anybody?
2) It keeps communication open between two people. A thank you says: I see you, I appreciate you and I am thankful to have you in my life. Opening up lines of communication has endless amounts of positive reactions. No one wants to be the black-hole friend: always taking and never giving back. Thank you notes, at a minimum, acknowledge others’ generosity and thoughtfulness.
3) Here is the selfish one: folks are more likely to do things for you if they feel like you see them and appreciate them. If you make someone feel appreciated, I guarantee they’re way more likely to do something nice for you again in the future. It has the possibility to build tighter bonds with those around you and keep your relationships healthy and positive.
Occasions for sending thank you notes:
– Receipt of a gift (birthday, wedding, holiday, graduation, etc.)
– After a job interview
– As a response to a kind act (why, thank you for rescuing my cat from that tree)
– In response to a friend/family member/coworker treating you to something (meal, show, cup of coffee, pedicure, ski trip)
– After receiving exceptionally good service (at a restaurant or store)
– When returning something you borrow from a friend
– For helping you complete a task and/or a job well done
– For being a good friend/lover/coworker/teacher/boss/person
Key features of a good thank you note:
1) Nice stationery/note card.
Although this may seem frivolous, it is still important. Your stationery choice is a reflection of you, your style and the tone of the note. This doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. You can find some really nice note cards at grocery stores. This card is meant to represent you, your appreciation and your gratitude to the recipient. Find something that fits. Personally, I love bright colors, vintage patterns and ecoconscious materials. I tend to go for handmade, fair trade papers or recycled paper printed with soy-based inks. I get a lot of my note cards at Target, bookstores and at TJ Maxx/Marshall type stores.
2) Address the person my name.
Examples: “Dear Ben, ” “Hi Suzy!”
3) Thank them for what you’re thanking them for. Be specific! Correction, be specific unless it’s money. In that case, be kind and vague.
Examples: “Thank you for taking me to see Wicked in New York last Friday night.” “Thank you for taking the time to interview me on Tuesday.” “Thank you for helping me find a dress for my class reunion.” “Thank you for the quickie this morning.” $: “Thank you for your generous gift.”
4) Give additional detail of your appreciation and/or how you will use the gift. This should be sincere and heartfelt.
Examples: “I enjoyed the show very much.” “I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you in person about my skills.” “Your muscles always look so sexy in the morning light.” $: “I am planning to utilize it to buy books for college.”
5) Build a connection for the future. This part is very much open to interpretation and depends on how well you know the person. Now is a good time to update on what’s coming up next in your life, extend an invitation of your own or express interest in future connection. Just because this part is more open-ended does not make this any less important; this is really about the connection and building a relationship piece. You want to be sincere and genuine but it’s also an opportunity to build your future relationship and give the recipient something to look forward to.
Examples: “You are welcome to visit and stay with me in Boston any time.” “I look forward to visiting you on my winter break from school.” “I hope that I can speak with you about the position again in the near future.”
6) Say thank you again. Just do it. No. It’s not too much.
Examples: “Thanks again!”
7) Closing and signature. Do pick an appropriate closing for the tone of the note and your relationship.
Examples: “Warm wishes,” “Best,” “Peace,” “Cheers,” “Sincerely,”
Now for a couple of examples in action:
Dear Ms. Sally Smith,
Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I very much enjoyed meeting you and having the opportunity to speak about my skills and how I can bring them to your company. It was nice hearing how well your staff works as a team to accomplish tasks. I would love the opportunity to speak with you about this job opportunity again in the future. Thank you again for your time.
Best, Sarah Mojo
Thank you for the amazing night. I really enjoyed your home cooked meal, red wine and the cuddling on your 700-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Those dark chocolate crepes with strawberries for breakfast really were an unbelievable way to start my day. I love having you as my man friend. Thank you again for your companionship and sweet sweet lovin’.
See you later, Sarah Mojo
Hi Aunt Betty,
Thank you for the birthday card. I really appreciate your gracious gift. I am planning to put it toward my trip to France this summer. I will be sure to bring back your favorite bottle of Bordeaux and come armed with photos of my adventure when I return. Hope you enjoy the rest of your spring flowers. Thank you again.
Love, Sarah Mojo
In conclusion, thank you notes are an important way to express gratitude for the people in our life and the experiences we enjoy. Not only will they make you feel good but they’ll put a smile on the face of your recipient. I love them and write them often. At the same time, I know not everyone feels the same – which is why you should check out my friend Susan’s piece on Wednesday afternoon: Thank You Notes: Part 2 – Rage Against the Thank You.