Growing up, my mom always taught me to write thank-you notes — even for the littlest of things. When I was young, I thought it was kind of silly to write a thank-you note for the Christmas gift Grandma sent me, but as I got older and received a few handwritten notes of my own, I realized that handwritten notes can be a a great opportunity to express gratitude and genuine appreciation for others. In a world where words can be shot up into the air and pop up on a device in a matter of seconds, handwritten notes show a certain dedication and appreciation that a hurried email or text can’t.
In college, I’d receive talent scholarships in music at the beginning of each school year. Prior to receiving the scholarship, the head of my department would require a handwritten thank-you note to the donor responsible for the scholarship. This seemed odd to some of my classmates, but it wasn’t a foreign concept to me. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to thank the people who were helping me achieve my goals and dreams.
One summer, during my undergraduate, I found myself jobless, poor, and with nothing to do. I had been job searching day and night, and just couldn’t come across many available jobs. Eventually I was able to schedule an interview at a prominent retail store. I knew that there were probably 20-30 other candidates interviewing for the job, and that chances were very slim I’d make it in for a second interview. I went to the interview and felt like it went well, but I left feeling like there was no chance I would be able to stick out against all the other candidates. When I got home, I decided to write the interviewer a thank-you note for taking the time to meet with me, for giving me a chance discuss the position with him, and that I hoped to hear from him soon. I put the thank-you note in the mailbox, and a few days later I got a call for a second interview where he told me that my thank-you note really stuck out to him. In the end, I believe my thank-you note is what landed me the job.
It can sometimes seem like a small and meaningless thing to do, but you never know what can come from taking a few minutes to write a thoughtful thank you note. So here are three tips for making your thank-you note writing a little more meaningful:
1. Don’t go on auto-pilot
It’s important to not write a generic thank-you note: you can do this by being specific about what you are thanking them for. Pay attention to what you are writing and what you are trying to say. Focus on the rhetoric and avoid common phrases that don’t mean much.
2. Be yourself
Don’t write things that you wouldn’t say in real life. Being yourself is extremely important because it is what determines if your note is genuine or not. When I get thank you notes that are generic and careless I can tell that it didn’t mean much to the writer.
4. Cater to your audience
If you’re writing a thank-you note to a good friend, feel free to be personal and use less formal language. If you are writing a thank-you note to an interviewer, be sure to be professional in your thanking. Catering to your audience will help you determine what is appropriate and what is inappropriate to include in your note depending on the situation.
I hope that what I’ve written will help you more effectively communicate your gratitude and also help you to think of some new situations in which a thank-you note might be greatly appreciated.