How To Write a Great Thank-You Note (And Why You Should)
It’s time to bring back a valuable custom that has almost vanished: the art of handwritten thank-you notes.
Here are three benefits of making this a habit, along with a complete how-to guide at the end.
1. Gratitude Wows
The recipient of a handwritten thank-you note will be amazed that you took the time to express your gratitude in this way. He or she may feel underappreciated at work, and your note will have the same effect as Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: guaranteed to raise a smile.
2. You’ll Remain Top Of Mind
Although the reason to write a thank-you note is to express your gratitude for something another person has done, this practice benefits you too. It’s so unusual to get such notes these days that the recipient may very well save your note, ensuring that you will be warmly remembered for a long time.
3. Monotasking Is Mindfulness In Action
It’s possible to write a thank-you email while you’re checking your texts, seeing how many likes your latest Facebook post has gotten and placing an order on Amazon.
Not so with a handwritten note. You are forced to concentrate on this one task for a reasonable period of time. That is the essence of mindfulness, focus or presence.
You may not have time to meditate (or, more accurately, you may choose not to do so), but if you regularly write a thank-you note by hand, you will indeed be engaging in this practice.
How To Prepare
Get Good Paper
This is the time to splurge. I order top-quality, personalized notes from Crane’s, but there are other fine companies that make high-quality thank-you notes.
You can say the same thing on a piece of loose-leaf paper torn out of a cheap notebook, but consider the subtext. It says, “I’m cheap and don’t care enough to send you something special.”
Get A Good Pen
If you’re not a writer like I am, this directive might seem uncalled for. What the heck does it matter what you use to write the note with? It matters a lot, actually. A cheap pen can leave smears and little blobs of ink. You want this to be a special occasion, so spring for a decent pen. Cross, Lamy and Parker make good ones for under twenty dollars. They also feel and look cool.
And while you’re at it, buy a few refills for a few more dollars, so your pen will be ready when you are.
Avoid Distractions For 10 Minutes
Find a time and a place when you can turn off your phone and won’t be able to look at your computer. A quiet place is ideal, but you may not always be able to find one. Don't let that stop you from writing.
What To Say
This is the most important part of the article. In your note, mention something specific the person has done and how this has benefitted you.
Suppose you’re a meeting planner. Which of the following thank-you notes would you rather receive from a speaker you just hired?
Thank you for your business. I look forward to working with you again soon.
Thank you for inviting me to speak at the annual conference. I really appreciate your attention to detail, how promptly you responded to my questions over the past several months and how gracious you were throughout. You are a speaker’s dream client!
What Will You Do Now?
Note: none of the references to paper or pen companies are product placements, and no one at any of these businesses reached out to me. I just like their products.
Thank you kindly for reading this post. I hope you're having a good day (or at least not a bad one).
Dr. Bruce Weinstein, The Ethics Guy®
P.S. Here are links to my ethics courses on CPD Formula and LearnFormula, all of which will earn you one or two ethics credits. Just scroll down past my bio and you'll see them all. One of the courses expands on the ideas presented in this blog posdt: How Practising Gratitude Enriches Your CPA Practice--and You.