May 20, 2014

The Lost art of the hand written thank you

As we approach the Graduation and Wedding season I wanted to talk about a topic near and dear to my heart, The Hand Written Thank You Note.

Keep it Classy

If you follow me enough you may know that I work with middle and high school students to help prepare them to graduate high school and be the first in their families to attend a college or University. At this time in the year we are CELEBRATING BIG TIME! Many of my seniors are going to their number ONE choices for College and … may I add… most are going for FREE! Due to all of their hard work in applying for scholarships they get to look forward to a new opportunity many of their families never thought they would be able to afford.

It makes my heart over flow with joy knowing that they will get to experience Higher Education and go onto a life filled with the same opportunities that many of us received with having a degree.

As the year counts down my favorite lesson to teach my seniors about is the importance of “The Art of Writing a Thank You Note”. I find that as new generations come to age that there is a perception that it is okay not to show appreciation for gifts. Even many in my own generation have simply done without this on occasion and instead refer to sending Thank You gestures via – text, FB Post, or Tweet. Quite frankly… I find it appalling.

Call me, “Old Fashioned” but I do get insulted if I spend money on a gift and don’t receive a formal “Thank You”, whether its for a graduation, wedding, baby, birthday or other special occasions.

I believe that this skill is a taught, my parents taught me around the time I graduated. I had to write over 50 Thank You notes by hand and make them “personalized” to each person that gifted me. I was taught that, “You must show gratitude in life because you will continue to have special events happen in your life and those same people will remember how appreciative you were and continue to give.”  When we do not feel as though our gift was appreciated… we don’t continue to give to those people.

Here are some hints to a proper Thank you that I teach my students.

  1. Timing is everything – Waiting 6 months to send a Thank You is not appropriate. Thank You notes should go out 2-4 weeks after the event. This CAN be done. My wedding Thank You notes went out before the two week mark… I moved across 10 states, unpacked everything in my life, and still managed to have the time to show my appreciation. Sit down a write 5 a night until you have completed them, and split the load with your partner if it’s a wedding or baby shower.. they need to show appreciation too.
  2. Social Media is not the answer – Posting a “Thanks everyone for making our day special” is great… but this should always be followed up by individual thank you notes.
  3. Text Messages are not sincere - “Hey I just got your gift, Thanks so much.” Really, that’s it? This coming from a phone that you send 300 text messages on a day. Thanks for rocking my day and making me really feel that you appreciated the time, money, and effort spent to give you that gift. You’re Welcome?
  4. Personalization is Key – I know that Shutterfly is awesome, I use it too. However, creating a generic Thank You that is sent to EVERYONE is lazy. If you do print out specialize photo cards use the blank side to personalize it with a short note to the gift-er… I promise it makes all the difference in the world.
  5. Every special occasion deserves a Thank You, no excuses.
  6. If you do not send a Thank You note, don’t be offended in the future when those same people don’t send you a gift. What goes around comes around.

In helping my students understand the importance of writing Thank You notes, I wrote all 26 of them a personalize graduation letter on stationary that I have stocked up on for years. Each student opened their cards which were followed by laughs, smiles, and lots of aws. We spoke about how it made them feel…

Special – being the key word.

Do you share my same feelings or do you feel that note writing is a thing of the past?

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