During our networking training sessions we remind people of the power of a thank you note. Why is it powerful? Because it has a unique positive impact; people rarely receive a handwritten note. It makes you memorable. We recognize that in today’s world a thank you email is better than no thank you, and in some cases it may be more effective because it is more timely than snail mail. And, then there are text thank yous with emojis… Oh well, it’s still a thank you.
There is no best before date on a thank you note
When we think of thank you notes we automatically think of the ones we send to someone who has just given us a gift or after a dinner or party, but a thank you note does not have a ‘best before’ date. Saying thank you never expires.
Here’s just one wonderful example, and it is a thank you that was recently sent to a friend of ours and it goes back four decades!
“I just wanted to say ‘Thank you’. I was in your Grade 3 Class back in 1987. Your class was one of the best….most of all, I remember learning fractions with you and you then let us learn ahead at our own pace. I went on to love math and in high school competed in many nerdy math competitions. I’m a pharmacist and work at a hospital where my math skills still come in handy all the time, especially when dosing pain killers and cancer meds. I am also a mother now of an infant and expecting a second one soon, and I just got to thinking about some of the great people I had in my life as a child. Thank you for being one of the best teachers I ever had.”
“I just got to thinking about some of the great people I had in my life…”
This was one of the most powerful lines in this letter and it is something we can all do. Start thinking about the people who have had an impact on your life, either today or anytime in the past. One of the best times to do this kind of reflection is when you are at a milestone in your life. For this woman who wrote to her teacher, she was expecting a child and perhaps that was the moment of reflection.
We encourage students when they get their first job to think of the people along the way who have helped them. Tell them about this milestone in your life and how they were a part of it. “As my student counselor you have been a source of invaluable information, in particular the tips you gave me when discussing my salary. I would have stayed silent, but you gave me the confidence and ‘the script’. I will use this for the rest of my career. You have made me feel empowered. Thank you.”
Young professionals can do the same when they have a career move—a promotion or joining a new company. There have been people along the way who have mentored and encouraged you and this can be acknowledged in a heartfelt note. “I wanted to thank you for encouraging me to go for that new role. It was nice to have someone giving me the nudge, and now that I have this new leadership role I will model your behavior and become a champion for others. Thank you.”
Even when the news is not as positive, thanking people for their support is a very good idea. A friend of ours who lost her job in a reorganization not only informed people inside the company she had just left but also thanked them for their support. “It was a surprise to come into the office last week to find that my department had been downsized. I am over the shock of it, sad to leave such a wonderful company, but now that I have had time to reflect I realize it was the people who really made it a great place. I will always be grateful to you for the way you were one of the first people to welcome me. I know it was just a coffee with a felt pen note on the cup saying “Welcome”, but small things have an impact.”
There are times when many wouldn’t think a thank you note would be necessary but we were so impressed with a woman whose job it was to spend 3 to 6 months in local tax offices before moving to a new location. She told us that she always sent very personalized thank you notes to the people with whom she worked. “I enjoyed these three months working together and I was impressed with the way you ran meetings, in particular the morning huddle. That’s a technique I will now use, thanks to you.”
As you can see these are just a few examples of “thank you” that might get missed in our busy lives. Who have been some of the great people in your life?
-Written by Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, Judy Thomson and Darcy Rezac, business networking speakers and authors of Work The Pond! Shepa Learning Company
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