Updated: Sep 30, 2019
“Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.” –Margaret Walker
In this post: How to craft the perfect Thank You note
Being born in Savannah, Georgia means I had the luxury of growing up with a Southern mother, and I was taught the art of writing a Thank-You note very young. I've always felt that sending a hand-written Thank-You note is an opportunity to truly connect to someone and express sincere gratitude. If your Thank-You note is effective, your recipient will feel your authentic appreciation. Politeness is a virtue.
If you feel hesitant about writing a Thank-You note, let me help you by first giving you reasons why you should. It’s good for you! Practicing gratitude will make you more optimistic. Feeling the awe and beauty, focusing on the positive in the present moment have all been shown to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.” Focusing on gratitude directly affects your well-being. It affects your relationships to your other personality traits, social relationships, and physical health (including stress and sleep).(1)
So, before you sit down to write a Thank-You note, let yourself take some time and unplug. Make some notes on what you’re thankful for. When you’re writing someone a Thank-You note, you’re giving them undivided attention. This will force you to slow down, connect, and feel what it is you’re communicating. If what you are saying is authentic, your recipient will feel that, too.
“There's something visceral about opening a letter - I see her on the page. I see her in her handwriting.” ― Steve Carell
Tips on how to craft the perfect Thank-You note:
Your note must be prompt. If you received a gift, just had an audition or job interview, sending a hand-written note should be prompt.
Invest in quality stationery.
Use a high-quality pen. (Avoid pens that skip. Do not write in pencil.)
State specifically what you are grateful for.
Communicate with modesty.
Show sincere appreciation (if you honestly have it) by making specific notes about it. Authenticity is important here. Otherwise, why write at all?
Show respect by writing a clean note with legible cursive if you can do it. If not, just be as clean and legible as possible. If you want to improve your own handwriting, read this post.
Make every word count.
Do not brag. (This should be common knowledge, but you would be surprised.)
Do not mention salary range or money if you’re writing to a potential employer.
Do not make excuses or apologies. (If you find yourself wanting to write excuses or apologies, then there are deeper issues to address, in which case —get down to the nitty gritty in person or over the phone. Just make sure you leave it out of the Thank You note. The note should be about gratitude.)
There you have it! Take some time to get still and take note of all of the things you are grateful for. May you take this opportunity to thank a friend or loved one and make someone's mailbox happy!
1. Wood, A., Froh, J., Geraghty, A. "Gratitude and well-being: a review and theoretical integration. " Clinical Psychology Review, 2010. http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/alex.wood/gratitudereview.pdf