Saying thank you seems to have become a bygone nicety. I for one, object to this omission. Somehow in this way too fast-paced world of ours we have let some old-fashioned values escape everyday life. Dropping or even e-mailing a few kind words of appreciation seems to be met with disdain by way too many people.
One might think that this article is about gifts that come in fancy boxes with bows or pretty bags with tissue-true this is one type of "thank you" that should be dealt with immediately. There is another, thanks should be acknowledged to those who have given an extraordinary amount of time or energy for any given number of events.
With computers, saying "thank you" is easier, faster and even less expensive. You can go to a card company’s website and either use the e-card method or the print version. Literally, within minutes whoever deserves a big round of verbal applause can receive one. Printing up a card, adding a few well chosen words, signing it and sending it off via snail mail can also be accomplished is but a few moments-without even leaving one’s home office.
Computer-generated cards not what you are looking for? Go to your e-mail and actually write a letter telling someone how much you appreciate whatever it is that they’ve done for you. To take it one step further: Go to your word processor and actually write a nice letter! This covers the ways you can thank someone.
However, sometimes it’s not how to do something, but what to say.
One person’s idea of a gift may be another’s version of well, garbage. My feeling has always been that gifts are not a mandatory item, even if the gift is truly awful, the person did their best (maybe not) and whatever it is deserves to be recognized.
A little story on the above: Years ago, while running my own pre-school, one parent would give me quite "the gift" at the end of each year. Her son was mildly autistic and developmentally delayed, so he was quite the handful. She always dropped him off early and was always 10 minutes late. I never charged her a late or early drop off fee. Come holiday time she would proudly hand me her gift. One year it was an obviously recycled box of very dusty potpourri. Another year, catsup/mustard/mayo packets (from a fast food chain) with a package of cocktail napkins. The third year, two single packets of hot chocolate and a pack (not a box of 3 or 6, just 1 of the packets) of microwave popcorn.
Because my motto is: Gifts are a blessing and in no way mandatory. I thanked her profusely when she gave me the bag (telling her she didn’t need too!). Then I wrote:
Dear Sheri, thank you so much for allowing me the pleasure to be a part of your family and taking care of Joey. He’s truly a wonderful little boy and I have enjoyed watching him blossom under my care. Your gift only adds to my pleasure. Carine
This shows you that no matter what the gift is, you can find a way to allow the giver to feel special. Another version of tact and diplomacy is when a family member has no idea who you are, but is kind enough to spend time sending you a completely ridiculous gift. The pink rabbit outfit in the movie classic "A Christmas Story" is a great example. The lead character Ralphie gets the costume from an aunt who keeps thinking he’s a 5 year-old girl. I can imagine his mom saying "Now Ralphie, your aunt spent a lot of time making this outfit for you; you must write her a thank you note".
I imagine this fictional young lad would probably have written:
Dear Auntie, Thank you for the pink bunny suit. I hope I don’t outgrow it by next Halloween. Your 12 year old nephew Ralphie
One of the most important and forgotten notes are those that should be written for time and energy spent. These "thank yous" might make the difference between success and failure in a given situation.
A case in point: My son-in-law, who is a real estate underwriter, had been going through quite a tough patch. For the first time in four years, he found himself out of work (the market in Southern California had dried up and therefore so did job opportunities) and becoming a father. Obviously, a new job with full benefits had to be obtained, post haste! He called former co-workers, the school that he received training from, went on-line, cold called agencies and mortgage offices all hoping one would lead him to another job.
Since he knew that at one time I had taught a class on "how to get and keep a job", he asked me for advice. The best advice I could give him: Write a thank you note to the interviewer! Even if they only saw you out of curiosity (why you were out of work, what place went out of business, etc), the fact is, they took time out of their schedule to talk to you. Thanking them reminds them who you are, what you need and that you appreciated the time spent on hearing you out.
One person upon receiving my son-in-law’s e-mail, called him up saying he was impressed to the point that even though he didn’t have an opening, he would make some calls trying to get him a real position! Turned out, that after a 3 month dry spell, that’s how he got a new place of employment! Again, I advised him to really send this gentleman a sincere and heartfelt note of gratitude.
Too many people forget just how much a few words of thanks can mean. Just like the gift, it’s not what it is, it’s what it means.