It can be expected that at some point in your professional life, someone will go out of their way to do something for you. It could be any number of things—the boss inviting you over for dinner, a coworker helping you land a sale, a supplier expediting an order or even a new customer trusting you with its business for the first time.
When that time comes, it is necessary to acknowledge the act by going above and beyond the standard verbal thank-you. According to etiquette expert Ann Marie Sabath in her book 101 Ways to Conduct Business with Charm and Savvy, “Any time someone exerts more than 15 minutes of energy to do something for you, a written or keyed thankyou is definitely in order.”
So now you know that you should write a thank-you note, the question becomes what to say. There are countless outlets on the Internet where retailers offer prewritten thank-you notes for almost any situation. They are well-written, concise and completely impersonal. Think of all the form letters you receive, and how easy it is to spot them. The whole point of writing a thank-you note is to be thoughtful and show sincere appreciation. Your best bet is to write your own unique note for each occasion.
In her book Business Etiquette for Dummies, Sue Fox offers a few suggestions for composing a thank-you note.
- Be short, graceful and on point.
- Stick to business (save the personal stuff for another time).
- Be sure to directly thank the person for the act (don’t just say thank-you for the help, say thank-you for your help sealing the deal).
- Recognize the effort that was put into the act.
- Write the note as promptly as possible, usually within a day or two.
What About E-Mail?
In an effort to get your thank-you note out as quickly as possible, you might consider sitting down at the computer and pounding out a thank-you e-mail. But before you hit send, stop and think for a minute.
As mentioned earlier, the point of a thank-you note is to show sincere appreciation by being thoughtful and personal. Taking the time to hand-write and send a traditional “snail mail” thank-you instead of an e-mail shows effort and appreciation on your part.
As Sabath writes, “In most situations, sending a thank-you through e-mail is like trying to give someone a hug without touching them.”
Writing a thank-you note is not just the proper thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. If a customer, co-worker or superior knows that you appreciate them, they will be much more likely to help you out in the future.
In a world where communication is becoming more and more watered down and impersonal, thank-you notes restore a touch of personality that doesn’t go unnoticed.