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!

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