Somewhere along the way of time and progress in the world, we have nearly lost the art of personal, hand-written thank-you notes. Airing on the side of not sounding like your grandma, I’m open to the idea that a new innovation will come around and offer a more personal touch than the homemade “thank you.” However, to date, I believe nothing has surpassed the excitement and flattery of picturing someone close or distant sitting at a desk, pondering what words he or she would like to produce for you with their own hands on a blank note card. The words are put in an order for you alone and shipped to the home where you live. It makes you remember the sender longer and more fondly than you might otherwise. And while we all fancy receiving a letter ourselves, it’s much harder to put out the effort to write one to someone else.
Here’s why it’s important to get in the habit:
- You Will Convey Your Genuine Thankfulness
Often, when we are thankful for someone’s time, gift, or help, it’s difficult to convey it in a meaningful way. It’s never wrong to thank someone face-to-face or on a call. However, the hand-delivered or mailed card is perfect if you struggle to sound genuine or want to add another personal touch to your in-person “thanks.” They will understand the steps you took out of your way to convey your sincerity.
- People Will Remember You
People have careers, hobbies, families and lives of their own. There is a lot on their minds. Sometimes they might forget you, especially if you only shared a brief experience. They are less likely to forget you if you touched them with a personal note. If they’re close to you and aren’t likely to forget you, you’ll still become closer and more on the forefront of their mind because of it.
- You Will Get Better With Words
For some, words don’t come naturally. Thank-yous are a great way to get comfortable expressing yourself with less pressure. It’s usually pretty short in length, so it’s do-able to write a few lines—even for the less expressive types. Over time, it will come to you more naturally. Who knows? This may even bleed through into improved expression through speech.
- You Will Grow Your Social Capital in a Meaningful Way
When someone has helped you out with advice or an introduction and you have thanked them, they will remember you. This matters because when you have a question about their field or need to reach someone for a referral or expertise, you’re more likely to be able to call on them again. Be sure to not manipulate or abuse your good standing with someone by seeing humans as opportunities. They’re individuals with something to them other than what they have to offer you. Sometimes, that will be your only interaction, and that’s okay. But, if you’re building your network and need to keep contact for future help, it helps if they remember you and remember you fondly.
Here are some ways to get in the habit:
- Keep Yourself Stocked
Buy thank you cards in bulk at stores like Home Goods, Tuesday Morning, Michaels, or other craft stores. Boutiques and higher end stores tend to have packs of ten or less for a high price. This isn’t good for keeping a stock. It may be worth it, especially after big events in your life, to order personalized batches of 100+. This saves trips to stores but can be an expensive initial cost. Keep a variety to not bore yourself or risk giving the same design to one person over and over. I, as a female, like to buy simple masculine cards, fun girly cards, and unisex professional cards so I always have something to choose from depending on the situation. (Plus, guys tend to not want a flowery card)
- Keep a Log
It’s easy to mean to send someone a card and forget. It’s especially easy to forget if you have a lot of people to thank after a move or accomplishment. Fix this by keeping a running list of who you owe a thank you wherever you write or type your task lists.
- Set Aside Time
It’s also easy to put off because there’s no real deadline—so give yourself one. Sit down between tasks and knock a chunk of them out while you’re on a roll. If you don’t do them the week of or even the month of, they will add up and it will become a bigger task than it needs to be. If you let too much time pass before you send a note to a brief acquaintance, they might not remember you.
Challenge: Write thank-yous to co-workers and acquaintances you don’t particularly agree with often. Focus on things you do like about them and be genuine with your words. It will help you treat them better and view them better in real life.