Whenever possible, I try to say thank you. A word, a phone call or a quick email to express gratitude can go a long way. However, I realized recently that I have become out of practice at the art of writing thank you notes by hand. These days, with time at a premium and the computer always in front of me, sometimes a thank you text is all people receive.
Stanford Professor Tina Seeling, in her recent Ted Talk, The Little Risks You Can Take to Increase Your Luck, discusses techniques she uses to improve her luck. One of her strategies is to write daily thank you notes to everyone she has met with that day. She does this because she knows that the thank you notes she has received have changed and improved her opinion of others.
And there is further evidence that a thank you note is more than worth your time. In the study, “Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation,” published in the journal, Psychological Science, the researchers analyzed both “gratitude givers” and “gratitude receivers.” They concluded that the gratitude givers “systematically undervalue gratitude’s positive impact on recipients in a way that could keep people from expressing gratitude more often in everyday life.” What this means is that people don’t typically say “thank you” as often as they should to improve everyone’s overall well-being.
Although some kind of thank you is better than none, a handwritten letter does something that a quicker thanks does not. It shows you have taken extra steps and that you really thought about the gesture or favor. This kind of gratitude can be a plus both personally and professionally. Clients, co-workers, bosses—everyone will appreciate the extra effort you put into your note.
So, I’m committing to writing notes again. You might consider it too. And we can both watch the results as we express gratitude, helping improve ourselves and the world.