The Lost Art of Writing 'Thank You' Notes
This article appeared in The Business Journal on December 5, 2003.
Writing thank you notes is a skill that should have been mastered by high school graduation. But it's never too late to review.
Q. How soon after receiving the favor, gift, or hospitality should you send the thank you note?
A. Be prompt, and send it in less than one week. The same day is perfect; the next day is fine. Three or four days later is acceptable; five is OK. Six days? You're pushing it. Seven days is the maximum. You don't want to start with the excuse, "Sorry I haven't written sooner, but..."
Q. What is the best way to start writing a thank you note?
A. Start with the word "you"--as in, "You were so kind to...". That's an improvement over the grade-school formula of, "Thank you for the..."
Q. Does it have to be handwritten?
A. Yes. That shows that you actually wrote it yourself. If you think your handwriting is unacceptable, write more slowly. Use a pen, not a pencil. Keep a dictionary handy for correct spelling. Writing thank you notes is easier if you already have appropriate note careds available. They don't have to say "Thank you" on the front. In fact, it's better if they don't because then the same cards can be used for notes of congratulations and condolences.
Q. How long should a thank you note be?
A. It only has to be three to five sentences. You can write more if you want, but then it becomes a thank you letter. Three sentences are sufficient. The best notes are short, sincere, and specific.
Q. By now, almost everyone knows to send a thank you note after a job interview, but how many people actually do it?