Take The ‘Thank You’ Note Challenge

Take The ‘Thank You’ Note Challenge

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When was the last time you sent someone a handwritten thank-you note? If you can’t remember, at least you’re in good company. While one-to-three-paragraph thank-you notes in a person’s own writing are an age-old tradition, most people today see them as, at most, something you write or nag the kids to write after getting a personal and expensive gift from someone you’re really close to (usually an older relative who was raised on the tradition and would be offended to receive less). In any other case, why go to all that trouble when you can send a text, dash off an e-mail, post something on your Facebook account, or at most buy a preprinted “thank you” card and just sign your name?

Well, the truth is that people are still human, and they love to know that you see them and what they do for you as deserving more than can be checked off a to-do list in five minutes. If you want to really make an impression on someone—send a handwritten note of appreciation. It really takes a just a few minutes more, and the effect is lasting.

You don’t even need a special occasion or recent favor as an excuse. Decide today to thank your old friends and the other important people in your life, just for being in your life. When writing your notes, be as specific as possible; let people know exactly why they are special to you. Recount how they impacted your life; review the aspects of their personalities that you find most attractive. Acknowledge the special skills these people possess, and note everything you admire about them.

Next, consider your business contacts. No doubt you keep in touch with them by phone and e-mail, and you probably send occasional “Thank you for choosing us” cards to your larger client base; but there is also a place for thank-you notes—genuine, handwritten, snail-mailed notes. Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, made a habit of writing three such notes every day, and always believed that this practice impacted the incredible growth of her company. By taking the time to personally write out your thoughts and feelings, you build rapport and make a great impression—a far better use of time than squinting over your PR budget and moaning about how difficult it is to distinguish yourself in the marketplace!

Whether you are acknowledging a first-time meeting with a potential client, following up on a sale, or acknowledging someone’s taking half an hour to share coffee and referrals, saying “thank you” never goes out of style. And even if you aren’t in business, you’re a part of the world of commerce; and how often does the average store clerk or apartment groundskeeper get even a verbal “thank you” for good service, even from people she interacts with every week?

So now I would like to invite you to take the “thank-you note” challenge. Starting now, write three thank-you notes each day. Get in the habit of practicing appreciation, and watch the magic happen!