We live in an increasingly rapid-fire, fast-food world. Unfortunately, it seems that a casualty of this new climate is that basic courtesies are quickly disappearing — and none more quickly than the old-fashioned thank-you note.
Be honest. When was the last time you sent one? When was the last time you got one?
There is something about an actual thank-you note, whether stamped and mailed or e-mailed, which brightens the receiver’s day. It says that you received the gift, favor, introduction or referral.
Thank-you notes also speak volumes about you, the sender:
- It says you appreciate the other person and what you received — whether it was to your taste or not. Yes, we are all disappointed to receive a gift we don’t like or can’t use. And yes, that is the time to suck it up and still show gratitude and grace.
- It says you are courteous, well-mannered, and a class act. Everyone prefers working with courteous, well-mannered people.
- It says you are professional — because sending a thank-you note is the professional thing to do. And everyone prefers doing business with those who know how to act in a professional manner. It’s just easier and so much more pleasant.
Paper vs. E-mail?
It used to be that a paper, mailed thank-you card was the proper thing to do. But these days, with instant messaging, e-mails and texts, a card that takes days to arrive can leave your hostess wondering if you had a good time at the party she worked so hard preparing. It also can leave your gift-giver wondering if you even received the present.
So, if you do prefer to send a card through the mail, why not also send an e-mail offering a quick thanks, and mentioning that a card is in the mail?
On the other hand, many people are extremely eco-conscious these days and attempting to cut down on the use of paper. So, forgoing the paper card and sending only an e-mail or an e-card is equally appropriate.
Remember, the content is more important than the means you use to send the thank-you.
Say something about the gift/party/good deed itself. Be sincere. Remember, everyone is as busy as you are, yet that person took the time to buy or do something nice for you. Don’t be cynical. It doesn’t matter if he or she sent the same thing to everyone on a “thank-you” list. It doesn’t matter if he or she had an assistant choose the gift. None of that matters at all in business.
Now, what about thank-you texts? I personally would not use them for any type of business thank you. I think they are just too informal, and it’s difficult to convey a thoughtful response or sincerity. A simple, unpunctuated, “OMG thanks” might be fine for your BFF – but it’s entirely too little and too informal for the client who sent you a restaurant gift certificate.
In other words, as with all things etiquette, consider the circumstances and the relationships involved, and act accordingly.
Just remember to send a thank-you note. It’s good manners and smart business.