My favorite moment on TV is on Friday nights when Jimmy Fallon writes hilarious thank you notes on The Tonight Show.
‘“Thank you, cotton candy,” Mr. Fallon scribbles on a correspondence card, “for making my grandmother’s hair look delicious.” Thank you, “bowling, for giving me an excuse to drink with somebody else’s shoes on.”’ – NYT 4/4/14
Although his fictitious cards are funny, it’s no joke that people who show gratitude are happier and even live longer. In his article, The Found Art of Thank You Notes, Guy Trebay of the New York Times declares that hand-written thank you notes are “experiencing a moment of vogue” and that writing them is “on trend.”
That’s good news, because feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason people leave their jobs and their relationships.
It seems like a small thing, but saying thanks is one of the easiest and best ways to give and receive huge benefits, from boosting someone’s self-esteem, (and knowing you put a smile on their face), to building relationships and trust that have a beneficial ripple effect for years to come.
Last year, Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, decided that his #1 New Year’s resolution was to write a thank-you note every day.
His candor was refreshing:
“It’s important for me, because I’m a really critical person. I always kind of see how I want things to be better, and I’m generally not happy with how things are, or the level of service that we’re providing for people, or the quality of the teams that we built. But if you look at this objectively, we’re doing so well on so many of these things. I think it’s important to have gratitude for that.”
In her famous TED Talk, Dr. Laura Trice muses on the power of a thank you, and how often people languish when they aren’t shown appreciation.
Most of us can relate to the idea that our boss or colleagues focus too much on what’s not working than what is. Or, that we don’t receive the appreciation or recognition we think we deserve.
Today, you can be the change you want to see and do something about it.
Research shows that grateful people are happier and more likely to maintain good friendships. And science shows it’s impossible to be stressed and grateful at the same time!
Showing appreciation has the power to transform your health, happiness, performance and success, while doing the same for the person you thank.
Who can you thank this week? Here are 4 tips to make it simple and easy to say thank you, and ensure you are giving and receiving the power of showing appreciation.
1. Use your imagination and cast a wide net. You can thank anyone inside our outside of your organization. You can thank your CEO, CFO, the receptionist, your direct reports – and here’s a thought – you can even send a note to someone who is a (friendly) rival.
Do you think your boss doesn’t appreciate all you do? Here’s a subversive idea: Send him or her a thank you note. Anyone, at any level in an organization can lead by example. There is always something you can thank someone for.
For example, was there someone this week who:
Gave you a great tip that made your work easier?
Made an introduction or referral?
(The most successful people I know are generous, especially with their networks and taking the initiative to connect friends and acquaintances for their mutual benefit. They weren’t born this way, they have cultivated a mindset where they are constantly thinking of how they can add value.)
Did someone give you candid feedback on something within your control?
You can certainly thank your vendors with a note, especially if they’ve gone the extra mile to rush something for you. And, it’s not only sales, business development and customer service reps who should thank customers – anyone can send a thank you note to customers.
Sending a thank you note to anyone, regardless of their rank on the career ladder will build good relationships and help you stand out in a network you will need for your entire career.
Don’t lull yourself into thinking that your closest friends and colleagues don’t expect or need a thank you note. They actually should be at the top of your list – these are the people who too often are taken for granted.
Even if you personally don’t care if you receive a thank you note, don’t assume others feel the same way. That’s a risky and short-sighted view. Good relationships are built through essential touch points over time. There are no short-cuts.
It’s worth the effort and there is no quicker way to bring them joy.
2. Keep a list. Recently, I developed a new system to help me be more consistent with thank you notes. I keep a post it with a list of people I need to thank (see #1 above) and a pack of notecards on the corner of my desk.
I add new people each week, and check some off the list after mailing the note – it literally takes all of 10 minutes to write a few notes (I aim to do this weekly, but more often than not, it’s about once or twice a month!)
An email works well, but nothing is better than a personal note card.
3. Find or make the time. Many of us don’t think we have time to write thank you notes. Try to find hidden pockets of time every week which you can use, like when you’re waiting for a call or Skype to get going, or commuting to or from work on the rail. Or, you can schedule 10 minutes on your calendar, say, after lunch every Friday, for example.
4. Buy simple note cards to have on hand. I’ve sent and received notes that are formal, with a name embossed, to casual notes with THANK YOU emblazoned on them. Yet, some of the nicest cards have been simple and personal.
A few times I’ve received a card that touched me so deeply, I went out and bought a box of the same cards to give that joy to others.
I send some thank you notes by email when I feel that an immediate acknowledgement needs to be made, but as I’m writing this realize there were at least a few times I could have made greater impact with a handwritten note.
That’s because, even today, a handwritten note card is a treasure.
Think about it, don’t you love getting a thank you note or card?
When that pile of mail is dumped on your desk, and you spy an envelope with your name in personal handwriting? Or someone in the office has placed an envelope at your desk?
It’s that correspondence that makes you feel the most special.
Thank you notes always matter.
With them you will deliver joy, build stronger relationships, and greater trust.
Thank you notes give you a chance to acknowledge achievements, or simply say you appreciate someone.
Everyone likes to be acknowledged and a thank you note will deepen the goodwill that is the lifeblood of all relationships. And by making this a habit, you also ensure that you are becoming better at looking for what and who to be thankful for – (just like Mark Zuckerberg did.) And, you would probably make Jimmy Fallon proud.
Ask yourself today, “Who do I need to thank this week?” And get writing!
You and the person you appreciate will be glad you did.
Oh, and Thank You for reading my article!
When has a Thank You note made an impact on you?