Last week, I saw a post asking, “does anyone write thank you notes anymore?”. I felt a bit saddened by this post because a basic thank you is something I highly value. But then, I had another thought that made me think about the reasons why I do things.
I like to consider myself as a person who would do just about anything for anyone. If you tell me you are sick, I’ll show up at your doorstep with chicken soup (if I can get there!!). Need to talk through a problem, I’ll listen. There is something inside of me that simply enjoys being able to help people in times of need. I don’t wait to be asked, but, if I am asked, I’m typically ready to jump in.
For all the things I’ve done, the percentage of thank you notes I’ve received is small. I’ve never expected a thank you because I’m doing these acts because I wanted to do them. But, if a thank you does come, I’ll admit that it makes me feel appreciated.
As a person who is so willing to help, I will say that at times, I have been taken advantage of. But, as soon as I felt that way, the help stopped and I reminded myself that I did whatever I did because it was something I chose to do. Then, I moved on.
This made me realize that there is a big difference between a thank you note and a true show of appreciation. There have been times that the result I see from my giving far outweighs the fact that the thank you note didn’t come. I give because I want to give.
On the flip side, sending thank you notes are something I find a necessity. If someone does something for me, I immediately send some kind of “thank you” that can range from a gushing hug to a text, a note or something bigger.
During my recent job search, I sent a hand written thank you note, through the mail, to every single person who took the time to meet with me. Some were interviews and some were simply networking meetings. It didn’t matter. They all received a note. Thinking back, I realize that I didn’t send the notes to stand out as a job candidate. I sent them because I really and truly appreciated the value of the time that these people had given me. If the thank you notes helped me stand out, it was an additional bonus!
There were some people who I felt went above and beyond on my behalf. Some of these people barely knew me, but were quick to send out my resume or introduce me to others. For these exceptional acts, the least I could do was thank them. When a note didn’t seem enough, I turned to one of my favorite companies, Starbucks. They make it super easy to go online and purchase a coffee gift card in any amount. The recipient gets a link in their email. Easy as pie and is a nice way for me to show appreciation.
I started thinking back to the days when our kids were young. Both my husband and I agreed that when our kids got a gift, a thank you was required. We actually put so much importance on this that a gift was not made available to them until the note was written and approved! Our kids were not allowed to simply write, “thanks for the gift”. We provided them with guidelines. They had to include what the item was, why they liked it, how they would use it, there had to be a statement of appreciation and finally, a good wish to the giver. It got to the point that it became a habit for our kids. It still is today.
A while back, our daughter had a work situation where her boss “had her back”. Stefanye wrote a hand-written note to thank her boss and put it on her desk at work. Her boss told her that she had never received anything like it before.
Years ago, our son, Konnor, won a scholarship for college. It was large and made a huge impact on our ability to pay for his schooling. Not only did our son write a note, but he invited the giver to meet so he could provide a proper thank you in person. The giver agreed and they met for lemonade. To our shock, this person told Konnor that he had been giving out this scholarship for over 15 years. Konnor’s note was only the second he had received and Konnor was the first person to ask to meet. We were told that the simple act of the thank you and the meeting provided confidence that the organization chose the right person.
I was in a recent situation that caused me to remember how our kids would always say thank you for dinner. It didn’t matter if it was a home cooked meal or us going to a restaurant, they would always say thanks and make a comment about the meal. I thought about this, not to pat them on the back, but to wonder if I’ve taken these thank you’s for granted.
Is it possible to “over thank”? Do these little, regular expression of thanks just become rote and lose meaning? Could this be the reason why the person posted asking if “the thank you note” has become a lost art? Or, do we stop doing things because we don’t feel appreciated?
I sure hope not, but, I do feel this is something to think about. I know I’m not solving world peace, but just maybe, if we all take a minute to show appreciation for those who do for us, perhaps others will get motivated to do more.
Maybe a little appreciation could be the prescription for apathy? I don’t know, but I think it is worth a shot.
It is my sincere hope that the people in my life who do things for me know how much I appreciate them and their actions. This makes me want to ensure that I always do something to acknowledge an act of kindness in a unique way that lets the giver know they are appreciated.