The Art of Thank You
Over the past two decades, it’s seems that business communication has become a quick and impersonal art. Phone calls and in-person meetings have been replaced with emails and WebEx presentations. In fact, the English language is slowly being turned into a series of abbreviations, thanks to text messaging.
One unfortunate casualty to modern technology, is the art of saying “thank you” – a simple expression of gratitude, in response to something done or given.
Sure, we still say it in other ways – the throwaway “thanks” and even “TY” seem to be the more popular ways of accomplishing the same task these days, but does it really accomplish the mission? Let me answer the question – no!
Nothing can replace an in-person “thank you“, made with eye contact and followed by a handshake or hug (or whatever your Human Resources Department deems appropriate). Make fun of me all you want, but it’s true. However, with clients all over the world, this simple act can prove to be impossible.
So, how do you show sincere appreciation when you cannot be there in person?
Before we get started, take your fingers off of your computer keyboard, now! This will not involve your computer at all. If your first instinct was to type an email, let’s just break that habit right now.
An email is probably the least personal and least authentic method of saying “thank you“. This process takes seconds. Yes, this may be convenient for you, but let’s also remember that it will also take seconds to delete the email on the receiving end. The recipient will likely show the same amount of gratitude with their operating system’s recycle bin.
The Form Letter
Now, your next option is typing a letter on your computer and following up with a signature. While we may be heading in the right direction, this method still receives a failing grade.
While the words on your typed letter may be touching and say everything you intended, let’s face it, anyone could have typed it and it may very well have been used more than once before. As far as the recipient is concerned, you just signed it.
The Only Solution
Nothing will accomplish a “thank you” better than a handwritten letter. Yes, I understand that this will require a pen and paper. However, office supplies were meant to be stolen. Trust me, no Ocean’s Eleven-type heist will be required.
The handwritten letter will almost guarantee that it will be read. However, more importantly, the intent of your letter will be felt. The contents of your letter will almost be inconsequential at this point. The mere act of sending a hand-written (and hand-addressed) letter will accomplish what you wanted. However, I don’t advise sending a blank sheet of paper in a hand-addressed envelope – just in case they really do read it.
With the overuse of “thank-yous” in electronic form, you are guaranteed to stand-out from the others when using a more personal touch.
Who To Thank
Now, it doesn’t take a genius to know that you will be sending a “thank you” to the person who provided a service or act of kindness to you. This is a given. However, in the business world, there is probably a good chance that there were others who helped along the way.
If you are dealing with people at the executive level, your very first letter had better be to the assistant of said executive. Why? Because, he/she is your pipeline to the “big guy”. The gatekeeper. If you lose at the assistant level, you are dead in the water. Take care of them and they will likely reciprocate. You will only be as close to the executive as you are with their assistant. Period.
How To Thank
Be specific on your reason for sending your letter. When thanking someone, be very specific. Tell them how they helped you, how it made you feel and the result of their actions. People need to feel value. This simple act will add to your value in their eyes.
The art of the “thank you” is not difficult. This all goes back to what our mothers taught us as children. Treat people as you want to be treated. It just so happens that in Corporate America, dollar signs may be attached to it in the end.