How To Write A Thank You Note And Make Someone Smile

When was the last time you wrote someone a hand written note?

Better yet when was the last time you wrote someone a handwritten thank-you note? Go ahead... I will give you a minute to think it through.

I am going to guess that the last time you wrote a thank-you note to someone was -- a very long time ago. It's been a long time for me too.

Yes, I give birthday cards to my mom, wife, and the kids. I will even write down that I need to thank someone for a job well done, which I will then email "thank-you."

What's The Point In Writing a Thank-you Note

Technology has revolutionized the way we communicate with others. Today, within microseconds after hitting the return key you are communicating with somebody, anybody in any part of the world.

So why bother sending a handwritten note through snail mail? I mean there is no immediacy in this form of communications. The entire process is painfully slow:

  • You have to write the note
  • You have to buy a stamp and envelope
  • You have to mail the note -- which could take up to a week to arrive
  • You have to wait until the recipient opens the letter and gets back to you

It's no wonder why very few people are sending thank-you notes.

Well, the inefficiency of this process is kind of the point. More importantly there is an organic experience of putting pen to paper -- that a keyboard cannot reproduce.

Yes, it's a hassle so very few people are doing it. But when someone does do it -- the recipient feels special.

How Do You Write the Thank-you Note

So when should you write a note? In all honesty, whenever you want. But more appropriately you want to reach out to someone when they have done something for you:

  • For being a good friend
  • For making a warm introduction to the CEO
  • For helping you on that project you feel behind on

Thank-you notes are short and to the point. They are not long narratives. But there are a few basics that every thank-you note should have.

  • Write it by hand. We are talking about being personal and a typed note is the furthest things from being personal. If you want to go that route then just send them a tweet and be done with it.
  • Be specific. You want to let the person know why you are thanking them. And what their gift or help meant to you.
  • Use writing paper and a nice pen. Make a trip to your local stationary store and pick up a heavyweight paper with matching envelopes. In as far as a pen use a nice fountain pen -- there is a degree of elegance not only of the pen but how it dances across the paper.
  • Before you start writing, write a first draft. Pull up your favorite word processor and type up the note. Use the grammar and spell check features -- once you're happy with the draft, put it to paper.

Here is an example of a note that I am sending to a close friend:

John, (not his real name)

Thank-you so much for inviting me and my family to your house for the weekend. The kids had a wonderful time and your wife is an amazing cook. But more importantly thank you for the business advice, I have a great deal to think about and do.

Ciao

Make a list of people you want to say thank-you to. And make this a project and give yourself a deadline. Better yet -- ritualize this process and make it a point to send out a note to 3 people each week.

At worst it will be received, appreciated and discarded. At best it will be received, appreciated and you would have made someone's day.

And isn't it better to make someone's day?

Question: No matter how busy your day is you should make it a habit to say thank-you to those that have helped you. Who do want to thank? So don't wait and send a note -- right now.

Foot Note: Orginally Appeared on The Good Men Project.