Monday, November 19, 2012

Creativity Tips: How to Write a Thank You Note

As we start the week of Thanksgiving, it's a perfect time for a primer on thank you notes -- and there is a test at the end, so sit up straight and pay attention. You'll thank me later.

How to Write a Thank You Note:
  1. Have stationery* on hand so you're ready to put pen to paper. That's right. Pen to paper. A quick email is completely wonderful to acknowledge receipt of a gift, but nothing replaces a note in the mail.
  2. Be prompt. Write the note within a day of receiving the gift, enjoying the dinner out, whatever. "Within a day" is not Emily Post etiquette -- I'm sure you have longer than that to still be correct. However, the longer you put it off, the less likely you are to write it. And, unfortunately, the longer you put it off, the more likely you are to approach it like a task rather than a genuine expression of gratitude.  
  3. Make it a genuine expression of gratitude. Stop for a minute and think about why this is nice, what the gift/event means to you, what the person means to you, etc.
  4. Don't worry about the salutation. Dear "Name" is always appropriate. Or, have fun if you want -- for example, Pattibeth! as opposed to Dear Patty. (Again, I am not Emily Post.)
  5. Don't worry about word count. Keep it short and sincere. You're writing a note, not a term paper. On the other hand, this is no time for a tweet -- Thanks a lot! is not enough.  
  6. Be specific. Mention the item or event and a reason or two why it is special. For example:
    Dear Mo,
    Thank you so much for the Anne Lamott book! I know you really enjoyed Help, Thanks, Wow and I look forward to discussing it with you after I read it. Lamott is one of my favorite authors -- and you are one of my favorite people!

    Dear John,
    Thank you for the wonderful lunch at Yia Yia's! The company was spectacular and the food was delicious. It was incredibly thoughtful of you to tell the hostess ahead of time that it was my birthday -- dessert is always a treat. As is time with you!
    All the best,
  7. Consider all these fabulous ending options: Thanks again, Cheers, All the best, With gratitude, In appreciation, Love, Sincerely, or the basic and perfectly lovely Thank you!
Now, for the test! (Hey, I warned you.) Look around and find a present someone gave you a long, long time ago. Something that you have kept, treasured, etc. For example, I keep a framed photo on my desk that mybestfriendintheworldsincefourthgrade sent me years ago -- a photo of us on vacation, in a frame that has special meaning. Did you find something? Great. Now write a thank you note to the person who gave it to you. Mail it. Make their day.

Naturally, there's only one way to end a post like this: Thank you for being part of the CI team!

*And keep a dictionary on hand so you can look up stationery vs. stationary.

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