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Leadership: Getting Noticed by Giving Thanks

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It’s always felt to me like the one, true American holiday. Almost everyone celebrates it and for these reasons, it is appropriate to discuss the critical communication skill of saying thank you.

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It’s always felt to me like the one, true American holiday. Almost everyone celebrates it and for these reasons, it is appropriate to discuss the critical communication skill of saying thank you.

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Most people, including myself at times, are guilty of emailing thank yous. It’s understandable. Someone does something nice and the immediate reaction is to thank the person. The quickest way to do it is to fire off an email. Showing gratitude, however, is a key interpersonal skill. I see it as a leadership skill. At the very least, it demonstrates that the thanker has good manners. As such, it takes some thought.

The problems with saying thank you by email, txt or IM, are legion, but chief among them is that such messages get buried in the hundreds of communiqués we all receive every day. In addition, there is something terribly impersonal about emailed thank yous.

So I’m pleased to report there is a better way: A handwritten thank you note.

I have been preaching about handwritten thank you notes for years. A handwritten note rises above the clutter of email so effectively. Think about it: You may not respond to most of the hundreds of emails you get each day. But I’ll wager you immediately open a piece of mail with a handwritten address and that doesn’t come in a #10 envelope. I know I do.

I love getting these thoughtful notes.The act communicates so much: The writer took time, she or he cares, the receiver is important. When was the last time an email made you feel that way?

Marc Halpert of Your Best Interest LLC, has begun to send out handwritten thank you notes to all his clients at Thanksgiving instead of sending Christmas cards. The note is simple:

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Dear ____

There is no better time to say thank you to our loyal customers than during this early holiday season.

We appreciate working with you and would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours good health and happiness in the coming year.

Sincerely,
Marc W. Halpert

Last year Mark sent about 110 cards and received 3 new pieces of business. Clients felt so good about him as a result of receiving his note, they referred him to others. This year, he tells me, he sent out 200 – that’s 200 handwritten and addressed notes. It’s time consuming so requires planning. But the results speak for themselves. Marc told me that he dropped in on a client this week and the client said, “Oh, it’s the thank you note man.”

Marc and I agree that sending handwritten notes is so rarely done, it always gets noticed and – this is key – the reaction is always positive.

I don’t do Thanksgiving notes the way Marc does, but I always write a note when someone does something nice for me. I sometimes write them at other times such as when I see someone I know mentioned in the news or, of course, to express sympathy or good wishes when someone is ill. Some people have personalized cards printed with their business logo or initials. My preferred method is to use art cards (I’m currently into the impressionists). I write 2 or 3 sentences, address the envelope including my return address and – this is worth the price of admission – use a nice stamp. They cost exactly the same as the boring stamps. (NEVER use the postage meter – way to ruin the moment.) In certain cases, I include my business card.

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Anyway, I would love to hear your stories of sending and receiving thank yous, both handwritten and not.

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Ruth Sherman • Ruth Sherman Associates, LLC • Greenwich, CT • www.ruthsherman.com

technorati tags: communication, leadership, Thanksgiving, giving thanks, handwritten notes

About the author

Ruth Sherman, M.A., is a strategic communications consultant focusing on preparing business leaders, politicians, celebrities, and small business entrepreneurs to leverage critical public communications including keynote speeches, webcasts, investor presentations, road shows, awards presentations, political campaigns and media contact. Her clients hail from the A-list of international business including General Electric, JP Morgan (NY, London, Frankfurt), Timex Group, Deloitte and Dubai World.

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