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3 Important Features of a Thank You Note

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Who doesn't appreciate receiving a thank you note? Remember the days of getting actual mail?

While a quick email, instant message, or thank you emoji is nice, nothing feels as good as receiving a card on lovely stationery. Most recipients will probably be wowed by the fact that you even own stationery.

When I posted about The Power of Thank You in May, I created an agenda alert to remind myself to continue the practice of writing notes of appreciation to a few people each week in the new school year. While in the process of making space in my week to formally show gratitude, I'd like to share a lovely tip I received from an expert.

Growing up, my mother and grandmother each had a drawerful of stationery, cards for every occasion and blank ones, too. Writing cards at holidays and special milestones was essential and I inherited the commitment to and appreciation for writing cards. Even now, as readers may have noticed in the May post, I have a large stationery stash at work (and at home).

I consider myself to be a thoughtful writer and giver of notes, but it was actually only about ten years ago that my attention was drawn to the structure of a "proper thank you."

After reading a thank you note that I had given her, my husband's grandmother commented that my message had been well-crafted. A lady of grace, yet nonetheless exacting in her expectations, I was honored by the compliment. Grandma Pope went on to share what she had been taught by her mother about the three essential features of a properly written thank you. Here they are for you to borrow:

Speak the language of gratitude with specificity:

Grandma Pope indicated that it's essential to name the gift. For example, rather than say "Thank you for always being so kind," you want to detail a particular moment, occasion, or item. Building from the example above, your note for a kindness from a colleague might read: "Thank you for taking the time on Monday to stop your work and assist me with creating the timeline for my next project. That was incredibly kind, especially since I know that you also have an upcoming deadline."

Explain how you'll use the gift or gesture:

Grandma Pope further instructed to take time to share with the giver how you'll utilize what they've provided. Whether it be how you'll use a tangible gift, incorporate advice, or learn from a shared experience, write an additional sentence or two to explain why what they have provided is valuable to you. For example, with the gift of a journal, you might detail, "This journal is the perfect gift to carry on our next vacation. I want to create a travelogue of our trip to Brazil so we'll be able to read back through it and relive the memories. I can also sketch some of the sites on the blank pages."

Detail your next point of connection:

Letter and note writing predates modern conveniences when we can see each other frequently in person or easily via media. However, in our high tech/low touch world, maybe Grandma Pope's advice on the closing is more relevant than ever. That advice was to indicate when you'll next connect with the recipient of your correspondence. When might you spend time with this special person who has given the gift? You might craft the closing as follows for the previous two examples, respectively: "I hope we have the opportunity to work on the same team for the xyz project. If not, let's choose a time to meet for brunch in April," and "We return from Brazil on the 20th, and will host a small gathering that weekend. I hope you will come and bring the kids."

These fine details truly demonstrate that you took the time to reflect on the value this gift provided. In just a few short moments, you can brighten a friend or colleague's day with a brief note. Wouldn't you love such a surprise on your desk?

I challenge you to try crafting a note with Grandma Pope's tips in mind. Don't be surprised when you make someone's day with that small gesture!

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