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Thank You Cards: Not a Lost Art

Thank you, Jimmy Fallon, for bringing handwritten Thank You notes back in style.

If my favourite segment on the Tonight Show has taught us anything, it’s that a) cards are not dead and b) there’s a thank-you for ever situation (from wedding registries to the Ashley Madison hack).

Saying “Thank You” when someone does a kind deed is plain good manners. Sending a note via e-mail, text, LinkedIn or Facebook when someone goes the extra mile is a nice gesture. However, certain actions warrant a more meaningful token of appreciation.

The act of writing out a thank-you card can (I’ll focus more on a professional context).

3 simple reasons to send out Thank-You cards:

  1. You can build a stronger connection.

Nothing strengthens a relationship like the recognition of someone’s effort and time. Acknowledging an individual’s value to you can help you build a meaningful connection simply because people love being genuinely appreciated.

2. The pen is mightier than the keyboard. While true that in a digital age, an e-mail note will suffice most of time, there are special instances than warrant an extra oomph. When an individual has gone the extra mile, or you want to make a really good impression, a personalized, handwritten card conveys stronger emotions of gratitude. It shows that you’ve taken the time and care, automatically becoming more thoughtful than an email.

2. You’ll feel more grateful

Gratitude continues to be linked to happiness, and who wouldn’t want more positivity in life? Research shows that gratitude has health benefits, can make you feel more optimistic and deal better with challenges. It is now often encouraged to keep a gratitude journal in which you write regularly to help promote feelings of happiness.

When you write out by hand, you develop a stronger understanding of what you are writing — the words sink much more deeply into your brain. Naturally, you could feel much more stronger feelings of gratitude (and subsequently happiness) when writing out a Thank You card.

When is it optimal to write out a handwritten card?

  • When someone has acted as a job reference
  • When you interviewed for a job you really want. (Check out some tips here)
  • When someone with a busy schedulewitwent out of the way to help you
  • When someone took the time to give you valuable advice and mentorship
  • When someone has positively contributed to your personal growth
  • When you’re leaving an employer

Some Tips:

  • Don’t overdo it. You don’t want to write them for every single occasion where an email would suffice. Send a card when you truly want to show extra appreciation or want to impress. A former colleague sends you an invitation to an event that would be of interest? Send a thank you email. Said person acts as a reference for a job you landed? Send a thank you card. If you write a handwritten card for every single kind interaction, it will just start feeling like a chore to you, and will lose its insincerity.
  • Put a little thought into it. Don’t make it a generic “Thank you for doing such and such, I really appreciate it. Regards, [Your Name]”. Make it thoughtful and meaningful to read. For example, if writing a thank you note after an interview, you could reference a special point discuss or a common interest. Most importantly, it should sound genuine and in your own tone, so that it does not sound like a copy-and-paste job from a generic template.
  • Keep it succinct. It’s a Thank You note, not a novel.
  • Be timely. Ideally within a month.
  • Tips from the master of greeting cards, Hallmark, for all thank-you occasions (scroll down for “Professional Relationships”
  • Bonus points if you write in cursive! (It just looks nice).

Remember, through the simple act of gratitude, you are more likely to encourage other to offer you their time and help you again, you’ll make someone feel good for having helped you out, and you’ll build a good reputation.

Thanks for reading!

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