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Business Etiquette Secret Weapon: The Thank-You Note

Categories: Workplace Etiquette

thank you, thanksA friend who is an aspiring writer recently had a short story turned down by the editor of an online magazine. The editor was kind enough to write her a note as to why he turned down the story, and offered tips for improving it.

My friend e-mailed me and said, “Would it be stupid if I sent him a thank-you note?” My reply?

Thank-you notes are always appropriate in business (and in life, of course!), whenever someone has done something kind or helpful for you.

This act of kindness can be anything from someone taking time out of his or her busy day to talk with you about a project not on his or her "plate," all the way up to recommending you for the job of your dreams.

Why are thank-you notes so powerful? First of all, they seem to be a lost art. We’re all busy and our lives move so fast, it’s really quite easy to accept a favor, mutter a quick "thanks," or worse, text the cringe-worth "tx" and move on -- and forget all about it by the next day. But sending an actual thank-you note or card, sets you apart as a true professional and class act.

They don’t have to be long. In fact, they shouldn’t be, because you want to express thanks, not unnecessarily take up more of that person’s time. This shows respect.

Here are some instances where a thank-you note is a savvy move.

  • You have coffee/drinks with a potential mentor or advocate -- or someone who offers you information you need. Even if you pick up the tab, send him or her a thank-you note the next day. Why? It reinforces the favorable impression you (hopefully) just made, and will make the other person feel valued, appreciated, and more likely to want to continue helping you.
  • Someone recommends you for a job. Whether you get the job or not, if you get an interview, send your recommender a formal thank you. And on that note, it’s also not a bad idea to send your interviewer a thank-you note. People’s time is valuable, acknowledging that fact is gracious, smart, and well-remembered.
  • Your boss offers you a plum assignment, a promotion, a coveted business trip, or an introduction to someone who can further your career. Sure, you can just say “thanks so much!” and mean it. That would be enough for most people ... but do you want to be "most people," or do you want to conduct your career in a way that "most people" never will even think of -- and be remembered for the right reasons?
  • You meet a potential new client or someone with potential opportunities for you. Even if nothing is finalized, sending a thank-you note for this person's time, information, or hospitality is just good manners. It is a non-pushy way of growing your relationship and establishing your professionalism in the other person’s mind. So, why not?

Thank-you notes show professionalism, and are a good workplace habit to start or continue. They are good business etiquette, good strategy, and last, but hardly least -— if they truly are sincere, thank-you notes are good for the soul.

When was the last time you sent a thank-you note?

When was the last time you received one?

When was the last time you went out of your way to help someone, but didn’t receive any acknowledgement? Do you remember how that felt?

I’d love to hear your comments! Thank you. :)

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