Writing a sincere thank you note is one of the disappearing professional skills that can make a lasting favorable impression. People like being appreciated. One of Dale Carnegie's fundamental human relation principles is "Give honest, sincere appreciation."
Email, social media and the mobile phone have revolutionized communication, but have also depersonalized it at the same time. We are now in the age of "industrial" person-to-person communication rather than the carefully hand crafted world! Let’s get out our metaphorical quills and scratch some words on parchment.
When writing a thank you note, use a plain, small card. However, the card is not as important as the effort, so if paper is all that is available, write the note anyway. The back of a beer coaster may be a step too far though!
Use this 6-step formula as a sure-fire method of expressing appreciation in a written note.
1. Greet the Giver: Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith OR Dear Jamie. It seems like an obvious point, yet many people will begin a note with "Hi" or even omit the greeting. Dale Carnegie noted that "a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language".
2. Express Gratitude: "Thank you so much for the book". The key is to keep it simple and specific. The point of writing the note is to create an expression of a heartfelt sentiment. Short but nuanced, is always a winner.
3. Discuss Use: "I started to read the book immediately and have found many great ideas already". People like to know that you found their gesture or gift valuable. Sharing how you are using the item or idea makes their effort more meaningful. If you can specify just what great ideas you found, even better. Now we bring evidence to support the praise and that makes it so much more credible.
4. Another Thank You: Thank them again for the gift. It's not excessive to say thanks again. We are progressively getting fewer and fewer declarations of "thank you" in life, so this is a good chance to stand out from the crowd, as someone who still has grace and manners.
5. Complimentary Close: Wrap it up with a close that expresses your final thought: Regards, All the Best, Sincerely, Gratefully, etc. Then sign your name (legibly!).
6. Send It: Even if your colleagues and acquaintances are not of the note-writing variety, be the one who sets the precedent. How many of us look at our unread email box and see volumes in at least three figures or four, stacked away there like a dark cloud on the horizon? Email is a bulk commodity and we don’t necessarily read them all. This is because we simply can’t swim fast enough against the incoming email tsunami. A letter, arriving in the mail, competes with very few other similar interruptions. The chances of your note getting read are very, very high. This, plus the personal touch makes for a great impression.
It is the mark of a true professional to become skilled at writing thank you notes in this age of email, voicemail, and text messaging.
When the crowd Zigs, we should consider how to Zag!