In this increasingly digital era, it’s fun to get real mail, isn’t?
Not bills, junk mail, or magazines you never even subscribed to, but real, honest-to-goodness, heartfelt mail.
My favorite kind of mail to receive? Thank-you notes.
Got it from my mama
I blame my mom. She raised me with the assumption that thank you notes are non-negotiable.
As a kid, of course, I hated it. But, like many things we loathe in childhood, I now see value in it as normal, as just something you do. (Thanks, Mom!)
Now, as a grown up, I make it a practice to have stamps and note cards readily available. I simply don’t agree that an email or a text will suffice when showing gratitude.
Gratitude really is an attitude
You know the saying, “gratitude is always the right attitude”? Researchers have proven this is true and that writing thank you notes is a good thing for us all to do.
According to a 2020 study published in Psychological Science by two University of Chicago business professors, people routinely underestimate the positive impact of expressing gratitude.
In plain English: People who get thank you notes are pretty enthusiastic about people who send thank you notes.
The one drawback
Why aren’t more people putting paper to pen and writing thank you notes?
Apparently, the main reason people don’t write and send more thank-you notes isn’t lack of time or motivation. It’s that they don’t know what to say.
Are you procrastinating your next note of gratitude because you don’t know what to say? Read this.
In the meantime, here are seven reasons it’s time for you to pick up a pen and thank someone.
Somebody did something for you
Maybe I think too highly of myself, but I assume that anyone who gifts me a present spent a few minutes at least thinking about what I would like.
That said, he or she went to some effort to purchase said gift, have it mailed to me, possibly ran around trying to find exactly what they thought I wanted, etc.
Really, it’s that simple: A gesture earns a gesture in return.
Socially, if someone invites you into their home, and it’s not a potluck, write a note. If someone takes you to dinner, and pays, write a note.
And obviously, if someone gives you a gift of any value, write a note.
The recipient will be thrilled
Princess Diana was known as a meticulous writer of thank you notes. Her biographers say she sat down immediately after dinner parties to write her thank yous, even before she went to bed.
Rumor has it, a hostess once teased her by saying her notes were so prompt, Diana must actually have written them ahead of time. As a response, Diana’s next note to said hostess read, “This is proof that I wrote this after dinner.”
Imagine having one of Princess Diana’s notes now!
However, as stated in the University of Chicago research above, any note is precious to the recipient.
Be a stand out
Think among your circle of friends. If you have people over for pizza and craft beer, who sends a thank you note?
Have you ever gotten one from the office co-worker for whom you agreed to work a holiday?
I hope so, but it’s less than likely.
Be different. Be the one who writes thank you notes. It will always set you apart.
You get to buy stationery
I have all kinds of writing material suitable for thank you notes, from Pretty Peptalks letterpress notes to $1 cards that I bought because they made me laugh in line at the grocery store.
And don’t fret over the design or appearance of your note.
People love getting cards with drawings or photos of where you live or work. Or notes with an image, motif, or monogram that reminds them of you.
Beautiful notes and cards become keepsakes. They bring a bit of you to the recipient’s world.
Mark a major life event
One of my favorite people died in 2016, on a Friday. Two Saturdays later, I spent the entire day writing thank you notes to her friends who sent flowers and donated to in her memory to her favorite charity.
Emotionally spent, I ran out of steam quite a few times. More than once, I was tempted to give up.
Then I thought, “What if Becky gets her thank you note, and mentions it to Sarah, but I haven’t written Sarah’s thank you yet?”
While I pray it won’t be something sad that prompts your next note-writing endeavor, I hope writing them makes you appreciate the emotions that your friends took time to express.
It’s a savvy business tool
There’s also a purpose for these missives of gratitude that goes beyond personal expression.
I have a friend who serves as the director of a non-profit organization. Her organization routinely sends its donors form letters thanking them for contributions. In addition, her organization also requires its board members to write personal thank you notes to donors.
In a world where most only send computer-generated letters, she says you’d be surprised at the impact the simple act a handwritten thank you has on people and the goodwill it generates.
Don’t just take her world for it, however.
There’s also the tale of the former Campbell’s Soup CEO who sent 30,000 thank you notes—one to each employee—and who turned the company around.
Even the CEO of Facebook took a vow in 2014 to write a thank you note every day.
You’ll feel better about yourself
Writing out a thank you note also can serve as self-care.
Taking that little bit of time to let someone know they are appreciated also pays off handsomely for the sender of a thank you note.
Think about it: The world can be chaotic and coarse; which is why engaging in a basic courtesy like expressing appreciation to someone else creates an isle of calm and a sense of control akin to a mental health break.
Rather than view your next round of thank you notes as a chore, think about seeing them as doing good—for the person who remembered you, and for you, too.
Still struggling with how to craft the perfect thank you? We break down the ABCs of a thank you note—with a great example—here.