If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “I already said thank you…I don’t need to write a note,” I would have plenty of money to send thank you GIFTS along with all my thank you notes. Often, people are stopped by the fear of not knowing what to say in a thank you card but if we could all just stop and recall how much a simple note of thanks has meant in our own lives, perhaps the uncomfortable feeling of not having the right words would be less daunting.
The importance of writing thank you notes was affirmed in a powerful way for me when our son, Sam, was looking at colleges. During one of our visits, the head of the engineering department met with us to answer our questions and show us around. I remember feeling especially grateful that we’d connected with him and amazed that he was willing to give a prospective student a significant amount of his time. I wrote him a thank you note simply telling him we had enjoyed meeting him and sincerely appreciated the encouraging input he gave to our son.
Fast forward…a year and a half later. Sam was a freshman at the college we’d visited and had that gentleman for a professor. One day, I was visiting Sam and he needed to stop by his professor’s office in the engineering department so I tagged along with him. When we approached the office door and realized his professor was there and not busy with another student, I decided to say hello since we’d met before. I never expected him to have any recollection of our family visiting or of meeting me a year and a half ago. Before I had a chance to open my mouth, he exclaimed “you’re the one!” and hurriedly began digging through a pile of papers on top of a file cabinet in the far corner of his office. After a brief shuffle, he produced a card. He waved it enthusiastically and asked if I was the one who sent it. Much to my surprise, it was the very thank you note I had sent over a year ago…the note I honestly thought wouldn’t mean much to a brilliant professor with a list of accomplishments and a series of letters behind his name that I didn’t even begin to understand.
He thanked me for taking the time to write and said it was the first time he’d received a written note after a college visit. This highly educated and accomplished man whose life’s work is molding the minds of future chemists, physicists and engineers had a heart that was truly touched by a simple note of thanks. So, what’s the message? Never assume that a simple thank you note isn’t important and don’t let the fear of not knowing what to say in a thank you card stop you from putting pen to paper. It may be the most important thing you can do to warm a person’s heart and make them feel valued.
My favorite thank you card contains this verse:
“I know few words that take as little time to say and are as deeply felt as these…thank you.”