I am often asked if I consider a handwritten thank you note outdated. My answer is a resounding NO. Taking the time to send a note is a polite way to show appreciation, acknowledge an act of kindness, congratulate a job well done, or recognize someone for their continued loyalty. There is never a downside to a handwritten thank you note.
Here are seven thank you note etiquette tips that will help you shine:
- Keep your desk well stocked. Stationery, envelopes, a good pen and postage stamps should always be easily accessible. Invest in stationery that motivates you to sit down and put pen to paper. Have an array of card stock for different people and occasions. I find that when I collect too many choices, I use only a few of my favorite "go to's" and leave the rest in the drawer. Buy only stationery you love.
- Write it by hand. Even if you are not particularly proud of your penmanship, handwritten script conveys a warmth and sincerity that no email or printed letter can match. Take a few extra moments to write as legibly as possible.
- Open on the right note. Start with a greeting, using the name you refer to them as when speaking in person. If you address the person by a title or honorific, do so in the note as well. It goes without saying, but double check the spelling of their name.
- Follow the time-tested formula. Include a line or two thanking them for their kindness and specifically mentioning the gift or gesture. Give details on how much the effort meant to you, or how you intend to use the new item. Finally, reinforce your connection and reiterate your appreciation: "Thank you again for the beautiful congratulatory bouquet. It brightens my foyer and brings a smile to my face every time I pass by. I look forward to seeing you at the next professional mixer."
- Close with warmth. Your sendoff will depend upon the relationship you share with the person. "Sincerely" or "Best regards" is more formal as compared to "See you soon" or "Your friend," which is casual and breezy. Think carefully about how you want to conclude your sentiments.
- Put some thought into your postage. There are so many striking and creative stamps available that there is no excuse for using an errant stamp from the bottom of your drawer. Purchase or order stamps online that reflect your personality. Running your note through the company postage meter will greatly diminish the personal touch.
- Send it promptly. Ideally you will write and mail your card within 24 hours of receiving the gift or other kindness. Princess Diana was known to write thank you notes at the end of each day, acknowledging even the smallest gesture. Even if you fail to live up to her standards, do not let time work against you. It is always polite to pen a note of thanks.
You may also find Thank You Note Etiquette: After the Job Interview helpful. Visit Diane's blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and Instagram and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.