Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Manners Mondays, Installment #5: The Art of Thank You

I'm sure the etiquette books out there have covered it all. But as I get older, I have noticed the slow and painful decline of showing appreciation to and for others. Younger generations these days have no idea what a thank-you note is. I've even witnessed people my age completely disregard something thoughtful that was done for them. I will relay today the importance saying "Thank you," not just because you're supposed to, but because it will make the world a better place (I promise)!

- For starters, getting into the habit of just saying thank you on a daily basis will make you a happier person. Recognizing kindness, I have found, is one of the best motivators to becoming a kinder person yourself. I recall recently taking the bus on the way to work one morning, and I noticed an empty seat so I approached it but immediately stopped and did not sit down because it had some kind of gunk on it. A man sitting across the aisle, who was otherwise engaged in conversation with someone else, noticed that I didn't end up sitting, pulled out some napkins he happened to have, reached over and wiped off the seat for me (and I mean, made sure there was nothing left for me to sit on). I was pretty amazed, and proceeded to thank him, loudly and profusely. And people say NY-ers are rude! Hmph! I am always amazed at the kindness of strangers, so I like to keep the good karma flowing. I suggest that you guys out there do the same. Thank your mailman, sanitation worker, the cashier at the bodega. It becomes much easier, the more you do it :)

- Speaking of day-to-day appreciation, thank the people you see day-in and day-out regularly. I try to thank my co-workers regularly - I know everyone works really hard and sometimes the higher-ups don't always verbalize how thankful they are for real effort. So I try to do it for them :) Also, I try to make it a point to say thank you to my fiance. I strive for daily, but admittedly I get wrapped up in my own issues sometimes. Hey, I'm human. But he is an incredible person and I try to recognize even the smallest things he does for me and for us because it's important. And it makes for happy relations. Amazing what a little TY will do!

- Which leads me to talk about weddings. It really makes me sad to hear of people out there who send pre-printed/messaged thank you cards to guests. Really?!??! I mean, your guests may have not had an original idea about a gift because they got something from your registry, or they just wrote you a check, but the reality is that it's a gift nonetheless from people you specifically invited to your wedding. They at least deserve a personal note. Especially in the age of emails and texts, it's actually really nice to receive something handwritten and with a stamp on it! Also, I can't stress enough the importance of timing. I've never understood why people actually still wait three months after the wedding to send a thank you (beyond, of course, hoping to use or send a wedding photo with the card). Or I guess if you're moving. But still. I can't tell you how many times in the last year that I've had to ask mutual friends of the person I know getting married if they know whether or not a gift of mine was received because I had yet to get a thank you. It's maddening really. A couple I know that got married last summer did something great: they sent out their thank you's without too much delay after the wedding, and then sent out holiday cards that had their wedding/honeymoon photos on them! Best of both worlds. We're not going on our honeymoon till September, so rest assured, once we're back from the wedding and all gifts have been catalogued, thank you's will begin to roll out immediately.

- Lastly, always send a thank you note after an interview. Paper/snail mail is best, but email is acceptable as well. In this economy, people are really busy. It takes a lot to schedule interviews and consultations, so even if you're not really sure what to say, thank people for their time and their interest in meeting with you. Like writing a thank you for a gift, you can mention at one thing you learned or one thing that struck you as interesting or positive about the company or position for which you interviewed. Even if you don't ultimately get the job, you'll be higher up in line than the schmos that didn't even think to send a thank you note. 

I know it's just two simple words, but they are often so overlooked. It's not just about socially acceptable manners - saying thank you, and really meaning it, is so so important. I am fortunate to have experienced that what goes around, comes around, so appreciate and you will also be appreciated! Happy Monday!

Slacking, Slacking, Slacking... and Happy New Year!

I can't really believe it's been 4 months since I posted something. WOW! How embarrassed am I? Sorry folks! Life has taken some interesting turns, and I hope you'll forgive me when you learn why. But I'm really sorry for neglecting my blogging duties! I promise, I'm back!

So besides that ridiculous snowstorm that happened the day after Christmas (yeah, what was that about??), both of my fiance's grandparents died within a month of each other. I mean, they weren't necessarily at 100%, but I was holding out a little bit of hope that they were going to make it to the wedding. I am thankful I was able to meet them at least, and they lived long enough to see their two great-grandchildren (fiance's niece and nephew). And I know what I'm about to say is a little, um, unorthodox, but the amazing thing about having witnessed these two deaths is that I think now believe that death by broken heart is really a legitimate cause of death. My fiance's grandfather died first, and literally, just five or six days later, his grandmother followed suit. How in love must they have been for one not to be able to go on without the other? It's as sad as it is inspiring. I'm not an optimist, but I'm a softee and that hits me right there. Le sigh. So I think on our wedding day, I will leave a symbolic empty chair in the front row on both sides for both sets of grandparents.

In work news, my firm was selected to do the exhibit design for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture! I am super excited but unfortunately, having been promised to other projects already, I won't really be getting my hands dirty until next year. It's an exciting time nonetheless, and something I'm looking forward to it!

The wedding planning has been up and down. Deaths in the family always remind people of those they should have invited, which inevitably almost happened. Our guest list, and budget, have since ballooned - so much so that even all of the free and free-ish stuff we've managed to get hasn't really saved us much of anything. Another post on that later - and hopefully a lesson to you out there! So we've been trying to pick up the pieces, since we can't uninvite people at this stage. We will sadly have to cut back on some things that we wanted to do to make our a day a little bit more extra special. Probably my first real bridezilla moment, but I think I was in my right ;) I can hardly believe the big day is just a few months away! I am giving you fair warning though, that I will probably experience some serious WPW (Wedding Planning Withdrawl) so I'm gonna have to hit you with a little more wedding stuff even after all is said and done. You'll indulge me that, right?

And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging...