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The Power of the Thank You Note

Nov 11 2014

by Whitney Long

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As a child, sending a thank you note for Christmas gifts and birthday gifts, plus other acts of kindness, was non-negotiable in our house. Often, by the very next day, my mother would have the stationery out and the pen on the kitchen table. My two older brothers and I would grumble and complain but we knew that card (and we) were not going anywhere until it was written, stuffed, stamped and dropped in the mailbox.  With her standing over our shoulder, she would help us compose a note of thanks to family and friends for the kind gesture.

While my 10 year old self would have rather have been doing almost anything else, I now realize she was instilling an important character trait in us… gratitude.   And as you can you probably guess, I now do the same thing with my four children. It’s a scene that could have played out in the 70’s and 80’s except I am now the one standing over their shoulders at my kitchen island guiding them,  just as my mom did for me.  With my “perspectacles” on, I am thankful that my mother insisted on this and showed us the power of the handwritten thank you note.  Ironically enough, as I write this piece, I realize I should now write a thank you note to her for this very reason!

Through the years, in our modern society, this lovely gesture has lost favor.  Even The New York Times weighed in with a piece titled  “The Found Art of Thank-You Notes.”   Now, more than ever, with the use of emails and texts in our fast-paced, digital days, a handwritten note is a powerful and memorable thing that is easy to do and so worth the effort.

Thank you notes come in both personal and professional contexts with some overlap. We all know that it’s appropriate to send a thank you note when you receive a gift for any reason, when you have been a house guest in someone’s home, when someone has done a favor for you, when someone has made an effort on your behalf.  For business, you should always send a thank you note after a job interview, after a business lunch or dinner, after receiving a promotion, when someone has helped you out in the workplace realm, when someone has written a reference for you.

As a business owner, you should send a thank you note to new clients or accounts, to your sales team, to that person that is gone above and beyond expectations. In fact, to be on the safe side, send a thank you note if you have any doubt because good manners go a long way. It’s so important that, according to Career Builder, nearly 15% of hiring managers would reject a job candidate who neglected to send a thank you letter for the interview.  32% said they would still consider the prospect but that opinion of them would diminish.

When it comes to writing the note, there is a certain order to the elements that should  be included, according to Hallmark.com:

For more detailed examples and templates for a variety of thank you notes for personal and professional use, see this link. 

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Erika Preval

When talking with Erika Preval of Charm Etiquette in Atlanta, she shared some words of wisdom for both personal and professional thank you’s and her advice is to be prepared.   If you are having an event where you will be receiving gifts (wedding, baby shower, birthday party) you’ll want to build a suite of quality stationery – full sheets, fold over cards, and the like. These can have an embossed monogram that’s classic or one that show more of a modern touch. For business, or if you are in the process of interviewing, have cotton paper and envelopes in white or ivory at the ready. Cater to your audience when deciding which to use. Lastly, maintain a supply of neutral (American flag, Liberty Bell, etc.) postage stamps.

But all this is naught without some fabulous stationery on which to pen your words of gratitude. Some of our favorite stationery and graphic designers are based right here in the South and can create custom stationery for all your letter writing needs:

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 Emily McCarthy

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Liza Cleveland (Bon Vivant)

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Gadabout (Hanna Seabrook)

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Jessica Clark (Ecru)

Whitney Wise Long is co-founder of The Southern C, wife to a patient and loving husband (most of the time), mom to four little angels (most of the time) and doggy mom to Jack, a goofy Standard Poodle (always).  She does not make Jack write thank you notes. For the others, it is non-negotiable. 

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Whitney Long View More Blog Posts from this Author

Whitney Long is co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit. Mama x 4, wife x 1. Entrepreneur, thinker, doer, writer, researcher, believer. Enjoys working alongside creative entrepreneurs to build community while supporting established and upcoming brands. Hobbies include travel, reading, bike rides and clever craft cocktails.

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