Tag Archives: thank you notes

The Handwritten Note of Gratitude

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As I write this article, we have just celebrated one of our favorite and most meaningful holidays. Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror, but surely we maintain the attitude of gratitude from that day. Even in this difficult time of Covid, we have much to be thankful for. As we approach Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanza, we look forward to sharing meals, parties and gifts with our friends, families and coworkers.

Now is the time to consider how and when you will express your thanks to those who have brought joy to your life. Maybe it was something special that you received during the year—a gift, a favor, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear or an encouraging word when you needed it most. Let those people who matter to you know how much you appreciate them.

How do you do this? By a simple act. You send them a handwritten note with words that come from your heart. Not surprisingly this is challenging for many of us. As a result, we don’t do it or we put it off for an embarrassingly long time.

Let me suggest a few things that will help you write those notes.

  1. Start with a list of those whom you want to thank.
  2. Keep your list close by so it stays not only on your desk but on your mind.
  3. Purchase your stationery, either fold over notes or correspondence cards.
  4. Buy several pens that write easily.
  5. You’ll need to have stamps at the ready.
  6. Keep all your supplies where they are easily accessible.
  7. Set aside a time every day to write a few notes.
  8. Then do it.

Thank you notes need not be lengthy. A few sentences are enough if you are feeling challenged.

  • Mention specifically what you are grateful for.
  • If you have received a gift, say what you will do with it.
  • If someone has been kind or thoughtful, let them know what their kindness meant to you.
  • Perhaps look to the future as you close. Mention how you want to connect with or stay in touch with that person.
  • Select a closing that you are comfortable with. It could be “Gratefully”, “With sincere gratitude” or even “Thank you again”.
  • Sign your name and you’re done.

I want to leave you with a quote from my dear friend and colleague, Elizabeth Herbert Cottrell, whose book HEARTSPOKEN: How to Write Notes that Connect, Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire is soon to be published.

“Some say the handwritten note is a dying art, yet in both professional and personal life, it is still one of the most powerful tools we have for connecting meaningfully with others. A well-written note can give voice to the stirrings of your most heartfelt sentiments and can be read, saved, and treasured forever.”

The New Year is Thank You Note Season

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Now that the holidays are almost over, and we find ourselves in the new year, it’s time to start sending out thank you notes for the thoughtful gifts and tasty treats you received during the season. Yes, I know, those are not the words you want to hear—especially since you know that I am talking about those handwritten notes that I continue to harp on. It would be so much easier and more convenient to text or email your gratitude. A few clicks of the keyboard, and you’re done.

However, when it comes to delighting those special gift-givers with the perfect sentiment at the perfect time, here are two things to consider:

  • Ink trumps email. Why? Ink implies effort.
  • Handwritten notes connect people in a way that simply isn’t possible via text or email. How? Your unique handwriting makes your message and therefore your relationship more personal.

Now that you understand the power of the handwritten note, what’s holding you back?

  • Is it the time? We all have the same number of hours and days.
  • Are you too busy? Everybody feels life is too demanding.
  • Do you lack the supplies you need? If you haven’t heeded my earlier advice and purchased appropriate cards or notes before the holiday rush, those items are still available. They do not sell out during the holidays.
  • Did you forget to buy stamps?  If so, no problem. The rush is over at the post office so pick up stamps while you’re out shopping for your stationary. Then write a note to self on your calendar for next fall that reminds you to buy your correspondence cards or notes and stamps early.

Finally, the greatest obstacle for most people is knowing what to say and how to say it? Those two things should be the least of your worries if you establish a process for writing your thank you notes and follow these steps:

Step 1. Decide how to address the recipient. Do you need to formal salutation or one that is casual? Are you going to call the person by first name or use their title and last name?

Step 2. Begin with “Thank you”. There’s no need to attempt anything more exotic than those two words.

Step 3. Name the gift specifically. Saying “Thank you for the gift’ is cold, off-putting and will make your recipients wonder if you value their gift or even know what it was. You might as well say, “Thank you for the thing.”

Step 4. Say something about the gift. What made it special? How will you use it? If someone sent your food items, tell them how much you either enjoyed the treats or how much you are looking forward to having them. Even if you are not thrilled with what you received, the giver need not know.

Step 5. Say how much you appreciate the thoughtfulness. This is really simple and always sincere. Who doesn’t appreciate being thought of?

Step 6. Choose your closing. Again…are you being formal or casual in your approach? Your salutation will determine your closing.

Think of your thank you note as a sandwich.

The opening and closing are the like the two slices of bread. Your thank you for the specific gift is the lettuce; the sentence about why you like the gift or how you will use it is the meat; the statement saying you appreciate their thinking of you is the cheese. Now wrap that in an envelope; garnish it with a stamp; and you have it. Just don’t forget to drop your handwritten thank you notes in the mail.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

After the Job Interview-A Handwritten Thank You or Not

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A subscriber recently sent me an email asking about handwritten thank you notes after the job interview. She wanted to know if it was necessary to send one during these times when etiquette and professional conduct seem to have vanished. My answer to her question was a resounding “Yes.” What you do following the interview is just as important as what you do before and during this stressful event.

In my presentations to college and universities students in particular, this question always comes up. At one session there was a recruiter present from a local bank. She told the students that the people who stood out for her were the ones who took the time and made the effort to write a thank you note following the session. She even went so far as to say that she saves the notes she receives.

Key points to keep in mind when sending a handwritten note:

  1. Your handwriting does not matter. You want it to be as legible as possible, but don’t use poor penmanship as an excuse not to write.
  2. Use a quality fold-over note or correspondence card. This is no time to skimp on cost.
  3. Address the envelope and put the stamp on it before the interview. That way, when it is over, you return to your desk, write the note, slip it into the envelope and head for the nearest mail box.
  4. Your thank you note serves as a “sales” letter as well. Use the opportunity to say why you want the job, what your qualifications are, and how you would contribute to the company. Your thank you note is also an opportunity to address anything you overlooked or needs clarification after the interview.

Handwritten thank you notes make a really good impression, but if time is of the essence, send a follow up thank you by email. The Internet is definitely faster than the postal service. The next step is to write a note as well. It may seem redundant, but the paper note will have a longer shelf life than your email and keep you top of mind with the interviewer.

The handwritten note is one of a vanishing species. Very few people think it is important and therefore they do not send one. You will stand out from the crowd and your professional conduct will not go unnoticed when you write your thank you. Your education, skills, experience and expertise are documented on your resume. Your interpersonal skills are evidenced by your personally written thank you.

Good luck to those job seekers!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Business Etiquette For The Holidays

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The pumpkins are gone, and the goblins and ghosts have all disappeared.  With Halloween behind us, we know what lies ahead—the joyful but often frenetic holiday season. It is a time of celebration for many religions. It is a time to share our joy and generosity with family and friends. But it is a complex season filled with traditions.

For business people it can be particularly challenging knowing appropriate ways to recognize colleagues and co-workers and where to draw the line between business and personal.

For that reason I have spent the last few weeks revising my eBook on business etiquette and protocol for the holiday season. I tried to anticipate as many of the situations that business people find confusing and challenging when I wrote Business Etiquette For The Holidays.

Have you ever asked yourself any of the following holiday business etiquette questions?

  1. Is it necessary to sign your holiday cards when your name is already printed on them?
  2.  Is it acceptable to email your holiday greetings?
  3. Is the holiday office party mandatory?
  4. What are some of the most common mistakes people make at the office party?
  5. How can you tell which fork to use at the business dinner?
  6. How do you remove unwanted food from your mouth?
  7. Do you have to write thank notes by hand or can you simply send an email?
  8. How can you decide whom to tip and how much, especially in tough times?

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

The Vanishing Thank You Note

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A video clip from CBS News prompted me to call attention to the value of the thank you note. I have written about this topic before, but I feel I can’t stress it enough. It’s good business and it’s good etiquette.

When was the last time you wrote a note to thank someone for something they had given you or done for you? Most of you reading this probably can’t remember. Those of you who can answer positively and even document when and to whom you wrote a note of appreciation are a rare breed. The thank you note is sadly vanishing. Yet a few handwritten words of gratitude can do more for your business and personal relationships than you can imagine. Expressing your appreciation takes very little time, effort and few supplies. It will bring you unexpected returns.

Here is all you need to send that note:

  1. A quality note card
  2. A good pen
  3. A supply of stamps
  4. Ten minutes of time

Keep your writing supplies in a convenient place where they are easy to reach. The minute someone does something nice for you, gives you a gift or buys your lunch, you are ready to respond.

Your response does not need to be lengthy. A few sentences constitute a note. Just be sure you mention the gift or the action specifically, how you will use the item or how the act affected you.

Poor handwriting is not an excuse. The person who receives the note will be so impressed at your effort that they will not grade your penmanship.

Start writing notes as a business tactic. Then sit back and watch the results of adding the polish that builds profits.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.