When is the last time you handwrote a thank-you note? Why don’t we write thank-yous anymore? Is it because of the ever-growing presence of technology? Our handwriting is atrocious? We’re too busy? Whatever the reason, we are losing the art of writing “old-school” thank-you notes.
In today’s digital culture, pulling out pen and paper is a way to distinguish oneself, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to connect with individuals in a meaningful way. For some of us, it’s been a long time since we’ve stretched our thank-you note muscles, so where can we go for guidance — Southern Living, Miss Manners and my Southern grandmother, of course! Here’s a summary of their advice:
Write the note! Write it as soon as possible. Just do it (but never let lateness stop you from writing at all).
Handwrite the note. Does your handwriting look like chicken scratch? Who cares? According to Southern Living, “Although it would be easier to send a text or email, a handwritten thank-you note is the most sincere and appreciated form of gratitude. The extra effort goes a long way.”
Buy stationery. Why miss a branding opportunity?
Express emotion. Miss Manners suggests, “‘Thank you’ should not be the opening words because that would suggest you were writing by rote. Start with a statement of emotion — that you were delighted that they came to your event or thrilled when you opened their present. Then come the thanks with a specific mention of the gift.”
Personalize your note with detail. Be specific about why the gift is meaningful or how you plan to use it.
Keep it short and sweet. Three or four sentences are sufficient.
Create a habit. Pick a time, set a reminder and follow through. Too busy? For you road warriors, when you pack your suitcase, pack your thank-you notes. Plane time can be thank-you note time.
Give a little extra. If in doubt, do a little more than you think is necessary. As Grandmother always said, “No one ever criticized me for being overly gracious!”
As with all good things, there are exceptions. While a handwritten note is distinctive, an email sometimes is a better choice, especially if the recipient may make a decision before a mailed note arrives.
Are you one of the few who have mastered the thank-you note? What are some of your tips for making them special (and getting them done)? We’d love to hear from you!
Tales from the Field
Before Graceworks, I was a classic example of someone consumed by stage fright. I would rather visit the dentist than get up and speak in front of people, let alone do an interview.
It was all about me. I was afraid of screwing up. I might forget my “lines,” which I would try so hard to memorize word for word. I might pass out in front of everyone. I might stop breathing or even die!
Graceworks actually changed my life, but it was a step-by-step process:
Step #1: Let it Rip. At my very first Graceworks session, I was coached into finding out that I could actually present a message solo to an audience without aids, props, slides or a guitar. Earlier in the session, Carol found out that I had played in a rock band in college and that I always had a secret desire to be a rock star. So of course, she had me sing my presentation as a rock legend, “air guitar” and all! I almost died from the thought of doing it, but I jumped in anyway. Knowing that I actually did it and survived has stayed with me all my life. It still helps bolster my confidence, whether I’m speaking to a group of 200 or an acquaintance at the grocery store.
Step #2: Focus On Them. Before beginning to speak in an interview or presentation, Graceworks taught me how to stop thinking about myself and start thinking about my audience. This concept might even be more powerful than the “rock star” session because every time I get up in front of a group and that old feeling of trepidation tries to take hold, I immediately switch my thinking off myself and on to my audience. I just ask myself, “How can I make it easier for them to understand my message?” I was skeptical of this concept when Carol first introduced it, but when I tried it, it actually worked. It gets better each time, and to this day, I’m still amazed that it actually works! Huge benefits come along when the fear leaves. While I’m speaking, I can actually think, answer questions, ad-lib and be me.
Step #3: Practice. I continue to grow and use Graceworks’ techniques one by one. I now share my stories and design ideas by facing my audience and using big, bold body language instead of pointing at the screen. I speak from my heart, expressing my true feelings and emotions, and I don’t ever write and memorize scripts anymore. That is true freedom!
Elliott Bonnie, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C
Director, Healthcare Studio Leader, Designer
Got Bigness? Got Boldness? Email us your most hilarious presentation tale, outrageous writing story, or ridiculous communication anecdote.
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