November 24, 2016
The Art of the Handwritten Thank You Note.
The Governess, 1739, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin (1699-1779)
If you went to Duke, folks will re-float the vile and completely untrue story that Duke exists only because Princeton had too much honor and class to accept Buck Duke's filthy tobacco money and re-name Princeton Duke.
In case your Governess never told you, you're from Utah, or you were stoned all nine years at Andover, remember that when thanking anyone for something important--a meeting, referral or a dinner--do it and do it promptly with a handwritten thank-you note. We all fail here from time to time. Yet no valid excuses exist for not writing short prompt notes.
Too few of us practice gratitude, in either business or our "other" lives, enough. Some say the practice of saying thanks is good for the soul. Others swear it's good for revenues, too. Many business people and some lawyers with the highest standards taste (i.e., wear socks to meetings or court) think that no written thank-you note means no class--as harsh and low-tech as that may sound.
Typed is okay--but handwritten is better. Even if you are not convinced that thank-you notes are noticed and appreciated (they are), pretend that we know more than you (we do), and do it anyway (thank us later). Good stationery. We suggest Crane's on the lower end, or something better, like stationery from Tiffany's, or a Tiffany-style knock-off, on the higher end. A "studio card", maybe. Plain. Simple. Initials on it at most.
If you get personalized stuff, have a return envelope address to a home or business--but without the business mentioned. It's personal. Leave Acme Law Firm off it.
If you get mentioned or "linked-to" on the Internet? However, "electronic thank-yous" by e-mails to express thanks for links, comments or mentions in posts or articles on the Internet--i.e., three different people link to your blog every day, you are working full time for clients, busy firing GenY staff and associates, and writing op-ed pieces entitled "Winter 2017: The Post-Election Mood of the Midwest"--are totally okay.
Short, sweet, and press "send".
Blogging about you or your ideas is, of course, very nice--but it's not like they bought you dinner, or invited you up to Newport for the weekend. Besides, you'll always miss a few kudos thrown at you in the digital ether.
But what if you are trashed in the ether? A "reverse" thank-you? Sure, you may be insulted, purposely mis-paraphrased, misinterpreted, or just inadvertently misquoted. It happens. Remember, some bloggers and pseudo-journalists are (1) angry, (2) disorganized, or (3) essentially unemployed. And there are often good reasons for all three. Three approaches:
First, ignore them. Who cares? You are busy.
Second, if you are dissed or insulted in cyberspace, and you are in the right mood, respond smartly with: "Wendell, Dude, if I were you--or someone remotely like you--I would not like me either."
Third, study the techniques of our friend Scott Greenfield, a full-time trial lawyer and widely-read blogger who manages to juggle, keep at bay and often humiliate legions of aggressive and often anonymous fire-breathing "experts" without breaking a sweat.
Anyway, let's get back to manners. If you don't regularly thank people for links or mentions of you or your firm's blog or website, you are fouling your own nest.
Not thanking people in the blogosphere is (1) arrogant and (2) dumb. It adds to the notion that (3) bloggers are insular, passive-aggressive lightweights lacking in people skills.
So develop some habits about all thank-yous for everything--and make handwritten the default position. If you don't, bad things will happen:
1. No one will give you any more business, or invite you to The Hamptons.
2. People will say mean things about your dog, your wife, your girlfriend, or about all three. Worse, they trash you.
3. If you went to Brown, snide people will remind you and your friends that Brown used to be the safety school for the Ivies.
4. If you were at Duke, they'll re-float the completely untrue story that Duke exists only because Princeton had too much honor and class to accept Buck Duke's filthy tobacco money and re-name Princeton Duke.
5. If Princeton, they'll just say you were always kind of light in the Cole Haans, too, and were once even seen dancing at an "alternative lifestyle" bar in the city--dressed in full leather biker garb--so what can you expect?
You get the idea. So thank people in writing. Handwritten as a general rule. E-mail only for a cyber-mention.
Finally, if your site is so successful that your links, e-mails and comments are through the roof, hire someone else to do the thank-yous--written or electronic--for you.
Posted by JD Hull at November 24, 2016 11:00 PM
Great post Dan. Don't know how I missed it earlier. Dying at the "you're from Utah" poke. Some of that culture has tentacles reaching into southern Alberta. I know it too well.
I remember receiving an unexpected thank you note back when I was 15 for a very simple act. I regularly think back to that and how that simple note was a greater act of kindness than my good deed. It was a teaching moment but I didn't learn the lesson. I've let way too many thank yous slip through the cracks, and I regret it. Think I'll purchase some good stationary tomorrow and keep it handy.
Thanks for this Dan.
Posted by: Ted Kelly at October 16, 2016 10:08 PM