Monday, November 23, 2009

The fine art of the thank-you note

posted Mon, 20 Dec 2004

Last week, Fatchick wrote about how to impress women.

Here’s how to impress everyone.

Write thank-you notes.

See how nice letter writing can be? And you don’t even have to have a bad hairstyle. We have ways to fix that now.

I’m not talking about email.

I mean a real, old-fashioned, set-pen-to-paper note.

It’s not that hard. Really.

And it impresses the heck out of the recipient.

If someone goes through the trouble and expense to figure out something you would like, buy it, wrap it, and stand in line at the post office to mail it – or to have an internet retailer send it – then it is really not too much for you to write a brief note on nice stationary thanking him (in the universal sense) for his thoughtfulness.

I know I am preaching to the choir with all of you, but feel free to email this post to anyone who needs this information.

An email does not count as a proper thank-you note. Email is appropriate for informing someone that a package has arrived, but not for thanking someone. After I ordered books from Amazon, wrapped them, and brought them to the office to give to a colleague whose wife had just had their first child, I got an email thank-you note that was sent to everyone in our group.

“Team,” it said, “Thanks to everyone for your baby gifts.” (Although at least there was some kind of note. I have had wedding presents go completely unacknowledged.)

If there is a second baby, there will not be another present.

Here are the situations when you write thank-you notes:

1. Someone gives you a present
2. You stay at someone’s house
3. You have a job interview

You are not limited to these situations, of course. You are free to write thank-you notes for other occasions, such as dinner at someone’s house or when someone does you a favor.

A thank-you note is simple: You thank the giver for the gift, you say something nice about the gift (this part may be a stretch if you hate it, but think of the thought that went into it and find something), and thank the giver again. It is not necessary to point out that you already have four purple scarves or that you are allergic to cashmere. “Thank you for your thoughtfulness!” is sufficient.

My friends Ilene, Lenore, Leigh, Heather, Lauren and Julie are masters – mistresses? – of the thank-you note. When I was in college, a group of about six of us went to my mom and dad’s for Labor Day weekend. Heather was the only one who wrote a thank-you note. My mother still remembers that about Heather.

When I worked at Prudential, we interviewed two candidates for a job. We all already knew Janet and liked her and were interviewing Cheryl just to make it look good. But Cheryl did great in her interview – and then followed up with a handwritten thank-you note to each of us.

Cheryl got the job.

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