The Art and Power of Sending a “Thank You” Note

Gratitude is the theme for the month of November as we gear up to celebrate Thanksgiving. Yet thanking people should not be set aside for a season or holiday. It should be part of our nature – something that we think about as we live, share, connect and make impressions on the world around us.

I recently was on the hunt to hire an intern for our firm. We conducted dozens of interviews. We met some really bright, motivated and eager college students. Yet it was quite a surprise that after dozens of interviews we only received one thank-you note. I ask the question: “Why?”

When you combine a thoughtful card with your words of thanks, you’ll guarantee that the recipient remembers you for many years to come.

Last week, at my 12-year-old’s cotillion class the teacher spent time discussing the importance, power and art of sending a thank-you note, especially if someone gifts you with cash! Thanking people who care for you and shower you with their generosity has to be instilled at a young age. And it should be fostered throughout a lifetime.

Did you know?

The history of the thank-you note is as long and varied as the letter itself. Ancient Egyptians and Chinese cultures wrote notes of goodwill to one another on pieces of papyrus. Years later, in the 1400s, Europeans delivered notes to others within their communities.

However, it was the invention of the stamp in 1840 that finally made sending notes practical on a larger scale. Stores began selling printed notes adorned with artwork, while etiquette books recommended the best practices for writing and sending thank-you notes.

As email replaces letters as our primary means of written communication, thank-you notes have become all the more valued. Taking time out of one’s day to physically write a thank-you note and send it in the mail is an effort that truly stands out and makes any gesture of generosity come full circle. Who doesn’t love receiving a handwritten letter?

How many times did your parents have to nudge you with a… “Did you say thank you” remark?

After my children have been showered with gifts for their birthdays, I let them smile and relish in the moment for a whole 5 seconds before I state, “Don’t forget, you need to write ‘thank you’ notes!” I do hope this thought process becomes intuitive for my kids. If so, I know it will be one simple way for them to stand out in a crowd while expressing their genuine gratitude.

My husband and I joke, “When will that day come?”

So this Thanksgiving, think about who in your life deserves a hand-written thank you. I must admit, I still need to work harder on this. I do know, however, when I do…I am separating myself from the ordinary.

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