Better Writing at Work: Write Mighty Thank-Yous
1. Recognize opportunities to say thank you. You have a chance to say thank you anytime someone has:
- Delivered particularly good service.
- Gone beyond the job requirements for you.
- Been especially thoughtful, prompt, or efficient.
- Give you an opportunity (an assignment, a referral, etc.).
- Given you a gift or treated you to a meal.
- Been a special pleasure to work with.
- Been helpful to you in a stressful moment.
- Bought your product or service.
- Consistently met or exceeded expectations.
- Made your day in one way or another.
2. Say thank you warmly. Always use the other person’s name and the personal pronouns I and we. For instance, write “Olga, we appreciate the artistry you brought to our project”–not “Your artistry is appreciated.”
3. Say thank you specifically. For example, if you are saying thank you for job-search help, mention the particular advice, critique, information, or other support you received, along with how it was beneficial to you. Here is an example sent by email:
Subject: Thank You, Sydney!
It was wonderful of you to give me resume feedback. I have made every change you suggested, and the new version looks and sounds very professional, thanks to your sharp eye and good ideas.
Thank you for investing your time in me and my job search. I appreciate it!
4. Even in brief thanks at the end of emails, be specific. A vague “Thank you” is polite but not powerful. Consider elaborating enough to make your thanks meaningful:
- Thanks so much for the information. Your research skills are amazing!
- Many thanks for responding so fast.
- Thanks! I appreciate your flexibility.
- Thank you for keeping me in the loop.
- Thanks for understanding and working around my schedule.
5. Say thank you without saying please. The purpose of your thank-you is to express gratitude, not to ask for anything. Be sure to focus purely on your appreciation. Here is a related example: Yesterday I received a phone call from Treehouse, an organization my husband and I have supported for many years. As I listened to the thanks of the caller, I waited for her to say something like “And now we would like you to increase your giving,” which would have reduced her thanks to an appeal. I was delighted that she did no such thing. She said, “I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your ongoing support.” That made me feel great!
Thank-yous for job interviews are an exception to the rule about focusing completely on your appreciation. In such a thank-you, it is smart to remind your reader of your strengths, without coming on too strong. Here is a good example of a thank-you sent by email:
Subject: Thank You for the Interview
Thank you for the chance to interview for the position of administrative assistant. It was a pleasure to learn about your business, and I would welcome the opportunity to work for you.
As a detailed-oriented “bean counter,” I would relish keeping track of your accounts, managing the shopping cart, updating the websites, and coordinating your calendar. The 8-3 schedule would be ideal for me, and walking to work would be a dream come true.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to meet. Please let me know if you need any other information to make your decision.
6. Say thank you for gifts, even if you do not really like them. A gift is a gift, even when you wish it were something else, and a thank-you is required to support the relationship. For instance, imagine that a vendor sends you a box of fancy chocolates, and you don’t eat chocolates. Write a simple message like this one:
Subject: Thank You for Your Thoughtful Gift
Stephanie, it was very thoughtful of you to send chocolates. I am sharing them with the team, and everyone is enjoying the luxurious treat.
Thank you for thinking of us.
7. Use the new year as an opportunity to say thank you for help, business, and contributions you benefited from during 2013. Here are two sample messages:
Happy new year! Thanks to supporters like you, 2013 was a very successful year for us. We were able to exceed our goals and expand our services to the needy because of your generosity and commitment. Thank you so much!
Thank you for shopping with us. We wish you a beautiful new year filled with comfort and gladness. We look forward to seeing you again in 2014. Happy new year!
8. Use whatever communication medium will help you get your message out: email or an electronic message, a handwritten note or card, or a typed note. Here are brief guidelines:
- Use email or an electronic message (through Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) for a person who is regularly on a computer. Electronic thanks may be any length, from one or two sentences to several paragraphs.
- Write a handwritten note or card to convey special thanks and a personal touch. Such notes are typically short, from two sentences to two paragraphs.
- Send a typed letter to acknowledge a significant donation, contribution, or assistance.
Thank-yous generally take just a couple of minutes to write and send. So send them! The good feelings they generate will live on. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: If you do not thank someone for their gifts or other contributions to your success, they are likely to remember the oversight. Write mighty thank-yous to nurture and build your work relationships.