Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Power of Thanking People with Handwritten Notes--Show Gratitude

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Part of the H.E.A.R. Principle is remembering who helped you along the way.

Can you think of all the people in your life who helped you, especially when you were experiencing adversity or when you were at a crossroad of sorts?

Was it......
  • a teacher like Mrs. Jordan who said the right thing at the right time?
  • the person who wrote a glowing recommendation letter that won you a major scholarship or admission to your school of choice?
  • mentors who appeared at just the right time to guide you personally and professionally?
  • the gatekeeper who put your important phone call through to the company bigwig?
  • a friend who consoled you through a painful time?
  • a stranger who did you an extraordinary act of kindness?
  • someone who opened the door for you, leading to incredible opportunities?
  • the minister who listened to you for hours?
  • family members who've supported you with love and encouragement?
  • your boss who backed you up in the midst a major corporate crisis that threatened to put you out of a job?
Why not become extraordinary, stand out from the crowd and send these people handwritten notes, thanking them for something they did for you? It will cause a few raised eyebrows, guaranteed.
You say you already sent them an email thanking them? Well, that's nice but it doesn't really count.
I'm not saying email should never be used to thank people. In fact, we've all done it and we will continue to do it. It's too easy not to.
Yes, you're very busy. It takes time to write notes. In fact, it just might make your hand hurt since you're probably so used to typing on a keyboard or dicating into a machine.
If you think about it a moment, the people who helped you were also busy; yet they found the time to guide you, listen to you, write a letter on your behalf, etc. Imagine the ripple effect your handwritten card would have on them. It would mean much more because they know you're a busy person. Wouldn't you agree?
Just a simple note will suffice:

"Joe, It's been many years since I've seen you but I never forgot what you did for me when I was towards the end of my career at ABC company. You helped me get started with my new speaking career by hiring a professional speech coach and writing a recommendation letter. Thank you Joe. Warm regards, Carl."

I'll bet "Joe" was very surprised to hear from "Carl" since so many years went by. There are no statue of limitations on thank you notes. Hint: This actually happened to me several years ago and someone is about to get a surprise card from me this week!
Here are some rules I go by when I want my thank you's to really count:
  • substitute handwritten notes in place of email for significant deeds
  • use blank cards (not the preprinted ones where you sign your name and be done with it)
  • insert your business card (especially if it has a photo on it - they'll love it!)
  • send a card to each family member and watch their eyebrows go up-they'll never expect it
  • keep it short and sweet-don't blubber your eyes out and cause the ink to run amok
  • it's never too late to send a thank you card (I just wrote one to my fifth grade teacher from over 30 years ago)

When you get into the habit of expressing gratitude in a heartfelt way, you subconsciously attract more of what you thanked them for. You bring into your life more people who will help you, especially in times of adversity. More importantly, you become more apt to give back and help others, allowing the universal cycle of giving and receiving to continue unfettered.

Food for thought: Imagine you are going to spend a lot of time with one of two people in a professional or personal setting. One person unexpectantly sent you a personal note of thanks. The other did not. They are both of equal background, similiar personalities, etc. Which one would you choose to spend time with?
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