The Art of the Thank You Note

Katy Montgomery

Katy currently serves as the Global Director of the Career Development Centre at INSEAD where she manages career services professionals across three campuses: Abu Dhabi, Fontainebleau, and Singapore. Katy previously served as the Associate Dean for Student Development at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

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In an article entitled “The Found Art of Thank You Notes,” the New York Times states, “handwritten gratitude intervention seems to be experiencing a moment of vogue.” My immediate reaction was, “when did writing a thank you note go out of vogue?”

When did thanking someone for going above and beyond, doing a favor, hosting a party, or giving a gift become unpopular? Become unstylish?

The more I thought about it, I realized that a number of people no longer properly thank someone for doing something extraordinary. And if they do, a text with the words, “thank you,” seems to be sufficient.  So, here are my self-centered arguments for why you should write thank you notes:

  1. Be remembered. No one gets paper mail anymore that is not in the form of bills, flyers, or junk. If you want to be remembered, then be unique. Send the type of mail that is smile-inducing; special. A handwritten note is just that—no requirements, no payments—just a lovely gesture of acknowledging someone.
  1. Avoid ticking someone off. For those who are thank you note writers, not receiving a note is considered lazy and rude. Also, in the case of a gift, the giver does not even know if it has been received unless you recognize it. Why upset the very people willing to do you favors and give you gifts?
  1. Strengthen Bonds. To do something as intimate as to write “thank you” in your own hand and to take time out of your busy day to do so alerts the reader that you care.
  1. Practice Makes Perfect. The more you write thank you notes, the more you become comfortable with small talk, networking, and remembering details about others. All of these skills are talents that will serve you well in your professional and personal lives.
  1. Be Grateful. According to psychologists, being grateful has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, and higher long-term satisfaction with life. Write someone a thank you note and you may find that nasty cold go away!

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