How to Write a Thank You Note

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • What kind of stationery should I use?
  • How do I compose a thank you?
  • Is it too late to send a thank you card?

We've talked about thank you notes hundreds of times. They are fast becoming a nearly lost art. That's too bad, because they are always appreciated. We know too many managers and professionals who keep them for years! Mark often talks about the basket under his desk full of cards, which he reads when he's having a bad day. It reminds him things are not so bad.

"Many a friendship -- long, loyal, and self-sacrificing -- rested at first upon no thicker a foundation than a kind word."

Frederick W. Faber

We consider thank you notes a part of every manager's career and management toolkit. Here's how to write them.

Additional Note: For those of you not close to a stationer or prefer the web, we recommend Crane's, Dempsey & Carroll, and Mrs. John L. Strong. Crane's is the classic American stationary provider, famous for their paper quality. Further, a quick suggestion: a higher rag or cotton content in your nicer stationery makes all the difference.


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Stationary should be stationery Ragg

Stationary should be stationery
Ragg should be rag, I think.

Thanks WVH. You're right on both. Our

Thanks WVH. You're right on both. Our apologies.

Mark

Thank you Mike and Mark for the many

Thank you Mike and Mark for the many hours of podcasts you have provided to the world.

Your podcasts have been very beneficial to me at work as I try to improve my relationships with those I am surrounded with. One unforseen benefit for me has been an improved relationship with my children. Listening is a very powerful tool as is feedback and appreciation.

Keep up the excellent work.

Janice- Thanks for the kind note.

Janice-

Thanks for the kind note. Glad you're getting value from our work, and thrilled that your kids are benefiting as well.

It's our privilege.

Mark

Thank goodness basic manners are

Thank goodness basic manners are returning! I recieved Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette when I graduated from high school-these concepts are simple and timeless.

What a great way to build your "network"...an obvious podcast for all who want to put their Thank You Notes into practice.

Thanks for the great subject matter-my husband and I listen to your casts at work and during our horrible Houston commutes.

Ya'll are our heros!
-Sarah

Great subject and can you provide some

Great subject and can you provide some guidence of when you should send out a thank you note vs. email. I make a point to send out "thank you" emails internally within my company. However, after listening to the podcast, I really see the value of a note. Can you suggest when it is appropriate to send email vs. a physical note - should they all be via a note? Does it depend on Band level (i.e. someone equal or higher than you)? Are there times when email is preferred and appropriate?

Sarah- Thanks for the kind note.

Sarah-

Thanks for the kind note. But we're not the heroes - you and your husband and the rest of our listeners are, when you use what we recommend.

Glad you're with us. Stay out of the morning sun on 59 heading into town this time of year - it's right in the face!

Mark

Blueman- Email is rarely

Blueman-

Email is rarely sufficient.

Rarely.

Mark

Long time fan of the podcast but this

Long time fan of the podcast but this one is just too much! Please do use all a favour and stick to the important content. Who cares about what stock paper you use or how you fold it.

Ryan

Excellent cast. I have a box of

Excellent cast. I have a box of corporate logo (embossed) stationary that I have used in the past. The paper is high quality as are the envelopes and the responses have been very positive.

Mark and Mike, When I began to use

Mark and Mike,

When I began to use e-mail as a primary communication tool, I let my note wrtiting skills become, well, non-existent - to the point where a quick "I'm getting married" note to some friends seemed acceptable (it's not, in case anyone is wondering). Your 'cast caused me to jump start something that used to be hugely successful for me...my oder from Crane's comes next week (I hope). Basic stuff, but the devil is in the details...as is success. Thanks.

Hi Guys, I one of your thousands of

Hi Guys,

I one of your thousands of fans who have used and benefited from you advices. I enjoy every single show I listen and every word I read from your website. Having these said, I can wait the moment to see and read a Manager Tools Book, I think this will be a very practical tool for all of us and I think it will get a lot of exposure; I think it will be a best seller, considering your actual success with podcasts.

Thanks

I agree with Ryan. Let's stick to the

I agree with Ryan. Let's stick to the higher level issues.

Perhaps more time than necessary was

Perhaps more time than necessary was allocated to discussing the materials for thank you notes, but hand-written thank you notes are a high-level topic.

By high-level topic I mean writing thank you notes will help you get to a higher level.

After a recent three-day visit to one of our field sales offices I sent hand-written thank-you notes to everyone who spent significant time with my colleagues and me. A week later I got a call from the manager of that office saying,

"Everyone here is talking about your notes. It was completely unnecessary but entirely appreciated. It's no wonder people love dealing with you. If there's ever anything I can do for you, let me know and please come back any time."

Thank you notes are not a low-level topic to me.

After reading some of the comments,

After reading some of the comments, perhaps a few more casts on how to be gracious are called for .... ;-) And if some don't believe graciousness and politeness have any place in a podcast about "managing", they're simply wrong. Effective management is about getting LOTS of LITTLE things right.

Mike

Podcasts like "Thank You Notes" are

Podcasts like "Thank You Notes" are very important. it is the little "stuff" that we need to be reminded of. This is an important issue. Continue to discuss the small details like where to seat in a meeting, how to answer questios and how to run a large meeting etc.

Ken

I don't disgree about politeness and

I don't disgree about politeness and manners and treating people in a proper and respectful manner. I always write and thank people for lunch, presents etc. What amazes me is that people who get to managerial level don't know about them!

Edith, you are right, it is really

Edith, you are right, it is really amazing that a lot of people don't know anything about politeness and manners.
But it helps to use these tools especially if you are not a boss and don't have the force to get what you need. Not the general rules and processes make the business go on but these little tools are the oil which make it work. That is my experience as secretary.
Judith

Success in business, as well as in

Success in business, as well as in life, is all about the details. I'm a project manager and interact with hundreds of people inside and outside of my organization. I'm not the 'boss' for any of these folks, and it is the small details, like writing a personalized note on nice stationery, that helps to communicate that I value and respect that person's time and contribution. When people feel valued and respected, they do their best work. My role as the PM is to make sure everyone on my team has the tools and support they need to do their best work! And they will remember your professionalism and kindness the next time you call on them to do something above and beyond their normal job duties! And that, my dear fellow podcast listeners, is effective management!

I was going to leave a thank you note

I was going to leave a thank you note to the "boys" but now I shall have to write . . .

On the other hand - After 22 years with the same company, following a takeover, my role has been made redundant and I left this week. When I was told the news in January the advice in the resigning podcasts came to mind and I was determined to leave with dignity and professionalism. It must have worked as the notes in the farewell cards from the IT Director and the IT Manager both thanked me for my professionalism. So I thank you in turn.

Not only do I leave with dignity, but I also know that as I now enter the job market that reputation will hopefully follow me.

Once again, thank you. And just imagine this is on rich vellum please, as I dread to think what he postage from here to the States would be!

Kind regards
Jan Scott
UK

Jan- Lovely. THe finest vellum,

Jan-

Lovely. THe finest vellum, indeed. Isn't technology grand?

It's a treat to serve members like you.

Mark

Thank you for your podcasts -- they

Thank you for your podcasts -- they have been a great help to me.

Regarding thank you notes. This Wednesday Jeff (You might be a redneck...) Foxworthy was on the Tonight Show. After Jay Leno gave Jeff a bad time about his beef jerky, Jeff pulled out the thank you card that was placed in his dressing room. It was still sealed in the envelope. Jeff went on to say that it would exactly the same thing as the past 18 cards said. "Yo, Jeff. Thanks for being on the show. Jay" (exact wording may be wrong -- but Jeff knew exactly what the card would say). Thus, you may want to change your style every year or so.

Yours,

Greg Fox

That is where the model comes in.

That is where the model comes in.

One paragraph saying thank you.

One paragraph CUSTOMIZING it to this specific person and incident.

One paragraph wrapping up and completing thanks.

With that model, you will never have Jay Leno's problem.

Hi Mike- It was exactly that model that

Hi Mike- It was exactly that model that produced the most memorable and inspiring thank you note that I have ever recieved in my life...a thank you note for my participation in one of Mark's classes a couple years back. From that point I was "sold" on the power of thank you notes! :)

A business collegue of mine recently

A business collegue of mine recently hand delivered a fruit basket that I had purchased from her, to a sick friend, and did not charge the delivery cost.

After listening to you podcast I pulled out some stationary for a thank-you note, mmm it was from the San Diego Zoo a trip I made over 20 years ago. The paper still looked good though.

During my searches I also found a card my mum had written to me, congratulating me on my first day at uni..an unexpected bonus.

I have enjoyed many of your podcasts, and even though I am not a manager 'per say', I have found them useful,

Thank-you & Best Wishes from Brisbane Australia ...

[...] So please give that a little

[...] So please give that a little thought, and if you’re in business give it a lot of thought, (might even want to read this post on thank yous) because I can count on one hand the folks I have bought stuff from in the past who bothered with a personal thank you … and I am still doing business with them … Thank you all. [...]

Amber- Glad you're

Amber-

Glad you're here!

Mark

Anise- Aussie Oi to you! Glad

Anise-

Aussie Oi to you! Glad you're getting value from our work.

Mark

Thank you Mark and Mike. My blog

Thank you Mark and Mike.

My blog doesn't do trackbacks so I'll trackback this way. In my post mentioning this podcast I added one tip for people like me with illegible handwriting (No, it's not typing.) http://www.allbusiness.com/sales/customer-service/4057231-1.html

Regards,

Glenn

I really love the way you go deep into

I really love the way you go deep into a single topic. Your podcasts are fantastic and so practical too. great insight, great topics, great stuff! Keep up the great work! and

thank you :)

Mou

The three-paragraph process works for

The three-paragraph process works for e-mail thank yous, too. Yesterday I e-mailed someone in another dept asking her for a piece of data, one stat, not an entire spreadsheet. This morning, after I outlined this podcast, I opened her reply e-mail and saw that she had furnished me exactly what I needed.

I don't think her response rose to the level of needing a handwritten response. Usally, people asking these questions respond with a simple, "Thanks," if that.

But using this process, I e-mailed her a thanks telling her specifically how this stat would be used and its benefit to our organization. It took me about 3 minutes or less.

Consider using this in e-mails, rather than replying with a simple "thanks."

Regards,

Glenn

Finally got to this one. I'll be buying

Finally got to this one. I'll be buying notes this weekend. I'll be switching leadership positions in the next month and I want to write a thank you note to each of my soon to be former employees. Thanks Mark and Mike!

Tom

Hi Folks It is the relatively new

Hi Folks

It is the relatively new management guy here. It seems like everything I learn from MT leads to dozens more questions - I sure have LOTS to learn :)

I have two questions about the thank you notes and apologies in advance to those who don't like the details with this question. Here goes - do you date the thank you card?

Second, what do you do with recurring favours? For example, as a young single guy, I often have families host me for dinners (say once every six weeks) or even invite me for an entire weekend (maybe once a month). Is there a point where the cards are not required or do you step up each time?

Thanks again

*RNTT

RNTT- Yes, and

RNTT-

Yes, and NO.

Mark

First some feedback about the length

First some feedback about the length and value of the podcast -- I agree with other comments that this cast had too much useless information about stationery that sounded like its primary purpose was to sell stationery as opposed to helping managers write thank you notes. Only persistent listeners would get through that to the very useful "how to" information.

In fact, I often find that Manager-Tools podcasts have very valuable nuggets but need editing down to cut out the chatter, and even the transition music is too long. I would recommend you either use a timed outline or script to keep your interviews on track, or if you prefer to achieve a more spontaneous air, how about employing a third-party editor after the fact. Someone who isn't too close to the subject could edit from a "what's in it for the listener" vantage point, and take these podcasts from good to great.

Now for an anecdote about thank yous. Too often we forget to thank our suppliers. We remember to thank our clients, our employees, our sponsors, etc. But because we are paying their bill, perhaps we think that is all the thanks our vendors need. Not true. They often value our feedback and appreciation as much as our timely payment and the reward of additional orders or projects.

I once sent some goody bags to the programming and tech support staff of my Web hosting company. They were going through a series of buyouts and downsizings, and I knew that the few staff remaining were working their tails off to provide me with excellent service despite a devastating lack of resources, daily uncertainty and low morale. The gifts were nominal in value -- just some candy and little calculator clocks and other office trinkets. But I labelled each item with a punny slogan that connected it to the kind of service the people were giving me. For example, the candy said, "You always TREAT me right," and the calculator clocks said "Your TIMEly response ADDS UP to great service." Admittedly corny, but the sentiment was obviously real, and people who know me know that I love wordplay and bad puns, so it made it more personal. I also labelled each goody bag with the individual's name. The day the package arrived at the office, I received thank you e-mails from every single person on the team, and their responses were downright emotional.

Needless to say, I continued to get outstanding service from them, despite continued challenges at their company, although that wasn't what motivated me to send the gifts. I had been in their shoes before and just knew they needed a more tangible way to hear that they were doing a great job.

I'm proud to work in a company that regularly takes time to include vendors in celebrations, awards, or simple notes of "thanks" and "job well done," since they are, after all, an extension of our staff. Remembering to say thank you to people in all 360 degrees of our circle of influence not only results in better service and outcomes, but also creates the kind of environment in which it is just plain more fun to work.

Megan- Thanks for the input! Glad

Megan-

Thanks for the input! Glad you're with us - we like persistent listeners who thank their vendors and suppliers.

Mark

(This is my second draft.)

Megan, That was special! A

Megan,

That was special! A wonderful criticism of the podcast length and conciseness, followed by one of the LONGEST comments I've ever seen here. Hilarious!

--Jodi

Hello, Just by accident I came

Hello,

Just by accident I came across your podcast "How To Write A Thank You Note".

http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/03/how-to-write-a-thank-you-note/

I think the show was great!

Now I am a committed listener and I am going through the archives.

However, I do want to make one point.

(Besides the fact that everything that you said was absolutely right.)

In just a brief moment you said, "It is never too late to send a thank you note".

That one idea is sticking with me.

It has become a very powerful thought.

I would suggest that you do a whole show on it!

In addition, be sure to ask for reader comments on what was the longest time they took to send a thank you note.

Pat O'Mahony
1506 Versailles Drive
Richardson, TX 75081
(972) 690-3611
pomahony2@hotmail.com

end

Thanks Pat! Glad you're with

Thanks Pat! Glad you're with us.

Nine years, for me.

Mark

[...] I need to start writing thank you

[...] I need to start writing thank you notes more often, and thus decided to practice on you. That doesn’t mean I don’t mean it, I do! [...]

I don't have personalized 'thank you'

I don't have personalized 'thank you' cards, but have been using high quality blank cards to hand write notes. It is appropriate for me to include my business card with the note so the receiver has my full contact information? I want the thank you to be genuine so I thought of having special personal, but not business related, cards made to include. Am I over thinking this?
Greg

Greg- Yes, that's fine for business

Greg-

Yes, that's fine for business correspondance. I wouldn't include your card for personal thank you's, though. I'd either have my address on the stationary, or write it on the envelope.

I would not have personal cards made. They hearken back to calling cards, which have fallen out of favor and are often misunderstood except in small circles where etiquette is still observed. (key word: SMALL, however sad that might be.)

Mark

I agree that it's never too late to

I agree that it's never too late to write a thank you note. A good way to start is, "You have been on my mind for a long time..." It bridges that gap, even if it is 9 years!

Kathy
http://www.Thank-You-Note-Samples.com

[...] Saying thank you is not that

[...] Saying thank you is not that difficult. It should be more than just a flippant “Thanks!” but does not need to be a detailed speech. Thank the person, tell them why you are thanking them, and tell them how you or the product or the company or anyone benefited from what they did. Here is a simple example: “Joe, I wanted to thank you for catching that bug in the system yesterday. If you hadn’t found it, we would have lost a day of work waiting for a new build. You really saved us a lot of time and it will help the project stay on schedule. Thanks again, I really appreciate it, and I know everyone else does as well.” It can be just as simple as that. Whether you thank someone verbally, via email, or via a written note (yes, by hand, with pen on paper — writing “real” thank you notes is an important and dying art), the important point is that you are expressing honest and genuine thanks for their behaviors and actions. Expressing real gratitude does not cost anything and it will pay off in dividends for everyone over the long run. To quote Carmine Coyote once more, “Today’s bonus may become tomorrow’s expectation, but genuine gratitude can last for a lifetime.” [...]

Hello Michael and Mark, I am going

Hello Michael and Mark,

I am going through the interview process and have been writing my thank you notes. I am a little curious how you mention in the 'How to write a thank you note' podcast that you have another podcast on thank you notes for interviews as they are slightly different, however i cannot seem to find that cast anywhere.
Am i mistaken?
I would also like to take this opportunity to give a real heartfelt thanks for all your hard work and effort. I have been a long time listener to Manager Tools and can remember my first download was your fifth cast... oh so long ago! I passed the link on to my brother as i felt he should hear the powerful impact of these casts and he was starting to ship out his CV(Resume) to move jobs, i spoke to him two days after and he said that he had only listed to a few of the 'basics' and that he now had renewed faith in his current job and felt that he could be doing so much better!
These casts have not only improved my career, but have improved my attitude on life in general. I may stop listening to them loudly in the house though, as now even my wife gives me feedback!

Thank you

Torquil Harkness (London, UK)

Thank you for addressing this issue. I

Thank you for addressing this issue. I have always written thank you notes to my directs and other contributors in the organization, but I was wondering how that reflected upon me because I have never received one, not even from an interview. Good to know manners and etiquette are always in style.
Thank you for the pat on the back.
Sammie Oney

Should one send the thank you letter in

Should one send the thank you letter in only the envelope it's already in, or place the thank you card & envelope into a mailing envelope?

No need for an extra

No need for an extra envelope.

Mark

Premium content

Show notes are Manager tool premium but slides are Career tool premium. Is this correct? Thanks.
Cathie

Cathie, There are shownotes

Cathie,

I see how that was confusing. Both documents are the same as this show is available to BOTH Career Tools and Manager Tools Premium Members.

I corrected the link of the documents to make that more clear.

Thanks,
Mike