Why Hand-Written Thank You Notes Still Matter – A Lot
Yeah, I know. Writing this makes me sound like a grouchy old person. But I’ll risk it because I think all the young adults who make this mistake are losing out on an important piece of life wisdom – and a chance to have an edge. A hand-written thank you note is a gesture that makes you stand out. That little card actually sends a message about the kind of person you are.
In an age of convenience communication, almost everything we write happens with the push of a button.
So why bother wasting paper and a stamp when you could say the same thing electronically? For starters, writing a note shows that you invested your personal time to acknowledge that I invested mine. It means that you thought this particular message was so meaningful that it needed to be held in my hands. It’s a symbolic gesture. And it goes a long way.
People assume that youth communicate online more than face-to-face. That may be true. Yet when you compare who people text with who they talk to, research shows that teens make sure they speak by phone and in person with their best friends. Why? Because talking to someone directly, and being with them, means more than words on a screen. It sends a message about how much you care. The same is true of a thank you note.
Thank you notes are the good form of polite, thoughtful people. Real thank you note writers are the people who ask if they can help set the table when they’re guests at your home. They are the ones who ask you how you’re feeling when everyone else has forgotten you were bummed out. Writing a thank you note is not something we should sacrifice just because technology will let us.
Thank you notes are great for all kinds of things: job and informational interviews, gifts, or when you’re a guest at someone’s home. As an employer, I am far more inclined to hire a young person who sends a hand-written note because I see it as a sign of responsibility, conscientiousness and character.
It will be at least another 10 years before the world is mostly made up of people who grew up on electronic communication. Maybe longer. Until then, the people writing your recommendations, interviewing you for jobs, giving you presents and doing whatever else deserves a thank you will probably be the ones for whom this means a lot. Writing a thank you note will give you an easy edge.