The Art of the Thank You Note

I am a big believer in the power of writing a personal thank you note.  As a business owner, I often send hand-written notes to clients or to those who have passed on a referral.  Without fail, all of them mention how much they enjoyed receiving the note.  As a Professor at Loyola University Chicago, I’m touched when my students write me a note to let me know they enjoyed having me as their professor, and how they value the real-world experience I provided them in the classroom.

One of my favorite people, Alexis Gladstone, is someone I’ve admired and respected for years.  She is the founder of Intelead, a Chicago-based consulting practice dedicated to designing strategies to help clients develop current and next generation leadership, increase the effectiveness of sales teams, and drive organizational change.  Alexis has a passion for helping women succeed and is a sought-out voice, trainer, and coach on the topics of women and leadership and helps clients attract and develop female talent.

Alexis wrote the blog, The Art of the Thank You Note, that I want to share.  She graciously gave me permission to repost it on my blog.  Thank you, Alexis.

The Art of the Thank You Note

I was raised in a house where we wrote thank you notes for every present we received. Even when the gift giver was there to thank in person, we still had to write a note. To emphasize the importance of this social grace, we were not allowed to play with the toy, or use/ wear the item until the note was written. Now that is incentive!

Flash forward to today and I still write thank you notes for gifts. In business, I write thank yous for such things as introductions, advice, referrals and when treated to a meal. Though I admit at times I “cheat” and send an email rather than a handwritten note. Unfortunately, I would say more often than not, I don’t get the same from others. So, imagine my surprise and delight when I recently received two separate handwritten thank you notes from organizers of different speaking engagements I participated in.

Should you always send a note? The Emily Post Institute says, “It’s never wrong to send a written thank you, and people always appreciate getting a ‘thanks’ in writing.” I agree with this advice. When I talk with groups or coach individuals on sales, networking or interviewing, I always emphasize that they will stand out if they send a handwritten note. You can be sure that the two individuals who sent notes to me stand out in my mind.

So why don’t we always send one? The first excuse I hear is we are busy. My response to that is to at least send a quick email thanks if nothing else. Another excuse is that because we do so much electronic communication, we don’t always have a physical address. That’s easily solved, just ask! Reach out and ask the person for their address. That is what the two clients I mentioned above did. They confirmed my address and a week later, the notes arrived.

Receiving these notes has encouraged me to believe that the practice of the thank you is still alive and well. It also has me ordering new thank you cards so that I can get back in the practice of sending handwritten notes.

Alyssa Burns is a communications expert, writer, and trusted advisor. She works with B2B and professional service business owners to create powerful content that tells a story, resonates with readers, and motivates action among their most important audiences.