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Etiquette for 2016 and beyond – Are you saying “thank you” correctly?

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Thank you. We all say it (hopefully) multiple times a day. We all type it often in the course of a day. Many of us even have it in our signature line on our emails. That’s all great, but there are times when actually picking up a pen and paper and writing the words shows a more sincere form of gratitude. Over the past decade email has replaced handwritten letters as our primary source of written communication. The art of the thank-you note seems to be fading in this world of technology. Taking time out of one’s day to physically write a thank-you note and send it in the mail is an effort that truly stands out and makes any gesture of generosity come full circle. Who doesn’t love receiving a handwritten letter?

Importance Of A Hand-Written Thank-You Note

Very little effort is required to thank someone verbally. As I mentioned previously, we thank people throughout our day. In fact, just this morning, I said thank you to six people in less than 5 minutes (the person that held the door open as I walked in to get coffee, the woman that moved out of my way as I walked by, the young girl that liked my shoes, the sales person that took my order, the barista that made my coffee and the gentleman that held the door as I left).

Yes, verbal communication is easy for most of us, but everyone knows it takes time to sit down and put your thoughts on paper. Finding the time to set aside a few minutes of your hectic day to write a few sincere words to show your appreciation for something someone has done, said or given you is a rare and treasured gesture. Unlike the verbal expression of thanks, a handwritten note can be read over and over for years and can be a reminder to someone that they made a difference in someone else’s world.

Six Elements of a Basic Thank You Note

  • 1.Salutation: if you are on a first name basis use it, otherwise use the more formal Mr. or Ms.
  • a.Dear Jane,
  • b.Dear Ms. Smith,
  • 2.Express your appreciation: Thank you is the more formal, thanks is the less casual
  • a.Thanks for the tickets to Willie Nelson
  • 3.Describe the gift or experience: Mention how an object looks or how you will use it. Mention your enjoyment of an event. People want to know they made you happy
  • a.Chris & I loved seeing Willie live. He is great in person and we knew every one of his songs. We danced and sang the entire show.
  • 4.Mention a connection: Express your desire to see or talk to the person soon.
  • a.We hope next time we can all enjoy an evening together
  • 5.Thank you again: It’s not overkill to say it again
  • a.Thanks again for a wonderful evening
  • 6.Close: Only sign the name of the person writing the note. Depending on the relationship you may want to be more or less formal.
  • a.Love, Cindy
  • b.Sincerely, Cindy
  • c.Best wishes, Cindy

What You Will Need

  • -Stationery: Personalized stationery with your name or monogram is an added personal touch, however a fold over note or flat card is appropriate as well.
  • -Pen: You want the message to last, a pencil fades over time.
  • -Time: If you are not use to using a pen and paper to express your thoughts it may take a few minutes to organize what it is you want to say. It might be easier for you to type it out beforehand (this allows you to check spelling and punctuation) once you are confident with what you want to write, just copy it down on to the stationery.
  • -Sincerity: It’s important that you write “thank you” notes with a grateful heart, even if you are writing out of necessity rather than truly intense gratitude (maybe it’s to thank your great Aunt Pearl for the bejeweled sweater, or someone who interviewed you for a job you know you’re not going to get), it’s important to do so with sincerity.

Final Thoughts

  • -Saying “thank you” never goes out of style.
  • -Sending a personalized note by snail-mail will always be appreciated
  • -When in doubt of what to say, be thoughtful and to the point
  • -Don’t be vague. Write exactly what you are thankful for
  • -A thank you note is always the “write” thing to do!


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