The Lost Art of Thank You Notes

So, in my last post I wrote about saying “Thank You.” As powerful as a sincere verbal thank you can be it’s magnified tenfold when it’s written down. So I want to take my last post a step further and suggest that you do more than merely say thank you, I’d encourage you to at least occasionally write your “Thank You” down, like in a note, with a pen, handwritten. Just like the old days.

 

I know that seems really old fashioned to a whole lot of people reading this and it may seem like a huge waste of time when you can just send a quick email or an even quicker text. But I assure you, it’s anything but a waste of time. 

 

You may think taking the extra five minutes to hand write a card and toss it in the mail (for those of you who have never done this “the mail” is those blue kinda curvy topped boxes you see sitting on street corners here and there) is a waste of time but I’m betting big time that if you received one you wouldn’t think it was a waste of time at all. You would appreciate, maybe greatly appreciate, the extra effort it took the person to send it to you. 

 

There was a time when I frequently suggested to people that they send 7 Thank You cards a week. I used to do that religiously; I’ve somehow gotten away from that and it’s truly a shame. People used to comment to me all the time about how much they appreciated the thoughtfulness. 

 

I still send a fair amount of “Thank You’s,” I just do it by email and I almost never hear a word about thoughtfulness. 

 

So I just went and bought a box of Thank You Notes (it was nice to see they still sell them in stores) and a book of stamps. It’s positively retro! I’m going to start slow and commit to sending one a week, every week. I’ll try to do more but over-committing is a sure way to kill any momentum I might develop.

 

Will you join me in rediscovering this lost art? No one’s handwriting is worse than mine so don’t try using that as an excuse; like those Nike people say… Just do it!


My grandfather used to sell cards in his store, I still remember a sign by the cards he sold. It said “Costs so little yet means so much.” Those words still hold true today; make a difference in someone’s life today, drop them a note and let them know they matter.


Two Little Words

Sometimes little things can make a big difference. Sometimes, when combined with another little thing they can make a huge difference. Such is the case with two little words, thank and you. 

 

Now “thank” almost doesn’t sound right alone. About the only way it makes sense is when used in a sentence like “remember to thank someone” or something like that. We can add an “s” to the word which makes it far more useful but all alone “thank” just doesn’t accomplish that much.

 

As for “you” well that’s another matter. With just in slight change in the tone of our voice we can make “you” mean very different things. We can say it with a smile and a friendly look and it tells a person that we think they are someone special. Or…we can say it with a growl and a stern look and they almost instinctly know that whatever we say next isn’t going to be meant as a compliment. 

 

It’s when we combine the word “thank” with the word “you” that magic begins to happen. When spoken together with sincerity and conviction “Thank You” has the power to change someone’s day. It has the power to let them know that they matter, that the things they do are noticed, and that they are appreciated.

 

Authentic Servant Leaders seldom if ever miss an opportunity to say Thank You when appropriate. They do not take acts of kindness for granted. They do not take good work for granted. They do not take extra effort for granted. They do not take their people for granted. 

 

If you have not used those two little words together in the last day or so (maybe the last hour or so) then I can virtually guarantee that you have missed an opportunity to demonstrate to someone that you appreciate them. That you do not take them or their efforts for granted. 

 

Now, just to be clear, a little half-hearted “thanks” said in passing doesn’t get it done. Look the other person in the eye and in your strongest, clearest voice say “Thank You” and mean it…sincerely. 


If you’re truly looking you won’t have to wait look for your first opportunity to appear. 

A Day of Thanksgiving?

I was asked a couple of days ago about what I would be blogging about this week. I said today’s post would be about the U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday. I was then asked why not just post that on Thursday, which is of course actually Thanksgiving day in the U.S.

That very question speaks to the premise of this post.

That question might seem to indicate that we are thankful one day a year, or at the very least it indicates that we only stop to “thankfully reflect” one day a year. That really doesn’t make sense when you think about it.

Now I love all the traditions around Thanksgiving, I even love fighting the hordes for bargains on Black Friday. I over eat along with the majority of Americans, watch some football, and have too much whipped cream on my Pumpkin Pie. Somewhere along the line of course we, at least some, stop eating long enough to be thankful. For a day.

Then it’s back to taking way way too much stuff for granted. Now, I’m not just throwing rocks at other people, I’m throwing them at myself too. I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

If you live in the United States you have so much to be grateful for. You truly live in the land of opportunity, virtually nothing is out of reach. (Actually, if makes no difference where you live, if you look hard enough you can find at least a ray of hope)

Okay, okay, it’s about here that some, perhaps many, of you are already thinking “what a crock,” doesn’t this idiot know how tough things are… Yes I know. I also know that on our worst day life is still pretty darn good, especially when compared to the struggles of much of the world.

When we focus on what’s wrong it causes us to miss most of what’s right. On any given day we have much more to be thankful for than we have to complain about but we choose to focus on the negative. One day a year we choose to look past the bad and be thankful for the good.

I wonder why we focus so little of our time on finding things and people to be thankful for. Is it because we measure our lives in years and there’s always next year? What if we measured our lives in days?

I have worked at the same company for over 18 years. Does that seem like a lot? How about this, I’ve really worked there for 6762 days. 9,737,280 minutes, 584,236,800 seconds. Now I’m sure not all of the seconds and minutes were good but I can pretty much guarantee that something good happened on each one of those 6762 days.

I can also pretty much guarantee that I have failed to be grateful for each one of my 6762 days of employment. I’m also sure that I’ve had something to be thankful for each of the 21,756 days of my life but I’ve only “officially” stopped for 59 of those days to give thanks.

That’s just not right. So join me in the coming seconds, minutes, days and years to stop everyday, every single day, to be grateful, to focus on the good things and good people that surround you.

I’ll bet that when we put in the effort to find the good we’ll discover that it doesn’t take much effort at all, it just takes a choice!