The Power of a Written “Thank You”

IMG_1991The worst part of every single birthday party throughout my childhood was having to write thank you notes afterward. Year after year, I pondered the thought of giving up the whole gift-getting thing and year after year, I remembered that I actually love receiving presents. Thank you notes were a must.

Sometime around junior or senior year of high school, I started writing thank you notes as a result of intrinsic motivation. No one had to tell me I needed to write any notes before I hung out with my friends or that I had a choice between writing thank you notes and cleaning my room as my activity for the day. I finally realized the value in what my mom had been making me do all of those years. (My dad would most definitely credit this to my turning 20 last month. I beg to differ, but I figured I’d tell you as a Father’s Day aside.)

I don’t know how many people my age send thank you notes—my guess is a small fraction. We’re required to send emailed thank you notes to employers who interview us for internships, but other than that I’ve hardly heard it mentioned since I’ve been in college.

I’m on a mission to change that. College students (and anyone who wants to listen): I’m here to tell you that thank you notes can really get you places in the world. My intention is never to build a network or to make people like me more—I do it as a gesture to reinforce that I am thankful because I sometimes feel I don’t adequately thank people enough in the day-to-day (and so should you). But those other positive consequences are basically inevitable.

My few paragraphs up there may not be particularly persuasive, but if they were, I challenge you to write a thank you note to someone for something sometime soon. It could be to your grandma for the $20 bill she sent you for your birthday; to a professor whose class changed your outlook on college; or to your roommate’s mom who sent some extra cookies so you could enjoy the treat, too. If I have you convinced, here are my guidelines:

1. Write it. With a pen. On some sort of stationery. Emails don’t count as real thank you notes.

2. The basic format I learned in third grade still works for me:

Dear _____,

Thank you for ______. I love it because _______. I enjoyed seeing you and look forward to seeing you again soon!



(This can obviously be altered–try to avoid signing “Allison” unless it’s your real name–but it’s a great starting point.)

3. Expect nothing in return.

You won’t regret it. Promise.

Until next time!

The Power of a Written “Thank You”

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