Received many thank you notes lately? Written more than a few over the past year? For most people, I’d wager the answer is no.
As CBS news’ Steve Hartman shared in a recent Assignment America segment, expressing gratitude can change your life. Hartman profiled John Kralik, an attorney whose book 365 Thank Yous:The Story of How a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life chronicles the effect writing the notes had for him.
There is really no downside to expressing thanks. Not only can thanking others endear us to loved ones and friends, it can help you stand out professionally. Getting comfortable with gratitude in writing might also improve your ability to relay verbal thanks. Read aloud your notes while composing them and you will learn to write words and phrases that can easily roll off your tongue in person, too.
Choosing to make this custom your own does require a bit of a commitment at first, but writing thank you’s becomes a natural inclination the more you do it. Handwriting a note is especially thoughtful, and its effect on the recipient more profound, but even a quick email or text will do if it means the difference between action and inaction.
Need help getting started? You’ll find many resources on the internet including the venerable Emily Post etiquette site. Typically brief, a note can be dashed off in minutes and fancy stationery is not a requirement. For a business related thank you, it’s probably best to skip the cutesy paper and pen your thanks on simple cards or letterhead.
Often, we don’t think of writing thank you notes until someone does something extraordinary or gives us a gift. However, the most meaningful notes can be the ones we write to those who interact with us on a daily basis, or are just doing their job when we cross the paths. Kralik mentions the note he wrote to a Starbucks barista — who initially expected the letter to be a complaint.
Start with your loved ones, the postal carrier, your spiritual leader, teachers, that friendly clerk at 7-11, the sales associate who went out of their way for you at the department store or the neighbor who gives you a friendly wave every morning. You may find more opportunities than you initially imagined, and recognizing the positive influence every one of these people has had on your life brings home the lesson of gratitude. Get thankful, and get writing!