The notion that gratitude is seasonal strikes me as odd, but the widespread emphasis on giving thanks during the holidays is undeniable. So now seems as good a time as any to talk about that quintessential expression of gratitude — the thank-you note.
In an age when the majority of communication happens electronically, sending a note via snail mail might seem old-school, especially for a business that views itself as being on the cutting edge of technology. And in fact, it is, but that’s the point. With so few people sending them, traditional thank-you notes stand out. And when done right, they’re far more meaningful than a text or email or, worse, no acknowledgment at all.
With that in mind, below are five tips for writing a masterful thank-you. They work for both business and personal notes, and they’re easy to remember by the acronym THANKS.
Imagine receiving a thank-you in March for a gift you sent in December. Although some might argue that a late thank-you is better than none at all, waiting so long to acknowledge the gift likely will dilute the sincerity of any sentiment about how much the gift means.
When you receive a gift, a thank-you note lets the sender know both that you received it and that you appreciate it. For both reasons, send your note within a few days of receiving the gift. The same goes for any note you send following a client meeting, interview, event, referral, completion of a job, etc. Doing so will lessen the likelihood that you’ll forget to write, and the immediacy of your thank-you will convey the depth of your appreciation.
Although a thank-you via email or text is better than none at all, a handwritten note is far more personal and will have a greater impact. In short, putting in the extra effort to send a handwritten note shows you care.
To make it easier, keep a supply of thank-you notecards on hand, along with a book of “forever” stamps (Disclaimer: Neither I nor any of my relatives works for the U.S. Postal Service). Once you get in the habit, you can write and address a note in less than five minutes.
Compare “your business is greatly appreciated” with “I so appreciate doing business with you.” The first example is in oh-so-bland passive voice, which distances the writer from the action and leads the recipient to ask (if only subconsciously) “who greatly appreciates my business?”
The second example is active voice, and it sounds so much more sincere, doesn’t it? Sincerity is the hallmark of the best thank-you notes.
A thank-you note should be original. You can find hundreds of thank-you note samples and templates online, and those can be helpful if writing thank-you notes feels foreign or uncomfortable. But please don’t use a template word for word. Relying on someone else’s canned message to convey your appreciation severely hinders sincerity.
Keep It Short
In most cases, you need only a few meaningful sentences to convey your message. The following general guidelines for what to say may be useful:
- Mention the gift, meeting, event, job, etc. and a specific feature that you appreciate.
- Indicate how that feature or the overall gift/experience makes you feel.
- Express your sincere gratitude.
These work regardless of the tone or level of formality you use. Just to prove it, here are two examples:
Both our lunch meeting and the food at Le Petite Paris were wonderful. I’m always delighted to meet a fellow Francophile and even more so to discover innovative ways to enjoy French cuisine. Thank you so much for making time in your crazy schedule to get together. I look forward to working with you.
You rock! How’d you know that swing trainer would be the perfect gift? (Oh wait, probably because you’ve seen me flub too many shots on the course!) Seriously, it is awesome, and so are you. Thank you so much. You’d better think twice before you agree to golf with me now.
All the best,
Moving Beyond the Seasonal
Writing thank-you notes is like any other kind of writing – the more you do it, the easier it gets. So let’s make the “season of gratitude” the “year of gratitude,” starting now. Want to stand out in a prospective employer’s or employee’s mind? Mail a thank-you immediately following the interview. Looking to land a new client? Thank your prospect for his or her time in the meeting you just had. Thank the hotel staff for helping make your event a success. Thank a vendor for responsive service. Thank an employee or contractor for a job well done. Thank your boss for her flexibility during your family emergency. The possibilities really are endless.
Oh, and …
Thanks so much for reading our blog and chiming in when the mood strikes. You rock!