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November 27, 2021

Holy Surprises of Handwritten Notes. Try not to screw this one up, Campers.


The Governess, 1739, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin (1699-1779)

In case your Governess never told you, you're from Utah, or you were stoned all seven years at Choate, do know that when thanking anyone for something important--a meeting, a dinner, a referral of a customer or client--always do it with a handwritten thank-you note.

Yes, handwritten. With a pen. On paper. And promptly.

We all fail here from time to time. But no valid excuses exist for not saying “thank you” in your own unique hand. Not one. No, the informality of electronic communications and the internet doesn’t give you a pass. No, handwritten thank-you notes are not the sole province of new brides, Southern debutantes and the New Canaan Junior League. Yes, everyone should do it. And yes, there are rewards.

Too few of us practice gratitude, in either in our personal or professional lives. Most of us, in our better moments, understand that gratitude outside of work is good for the soul. But it’s good for business, too. For revenues. And for business good will. I recently conducted my own unique business etiquette study (of sorts) on the rewards and benefits of handwritten thank-yous and the results were nothing less than astonishing. Even executives and professionals with modest standards and questionable taste--youngish American males who resentfully still wear socks to important meetings or court--declare to a man or woman that no handwritten thank-you note means no class--as harsh, low-tech and medieval as that may sound.

Sure. Typed thank-you notes in regular mail or (God forbid) email and are better than nothing. But handwritten is always better. Much better. Much more personal. Much more appreciated by your thankee-reader.

Use good stationery. I suggest Crane's on the lower end, or something better, like stationery from Tiffany's or a Tiffany’s-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. Again, it's personal. Leave Jones Brothers Ball Bearings off it.

Here's another way to look at handwritten thank-you notes. If you DON'T send them, 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. Thank people in writing. In your own hand. Do it every time and right away.

If by now you are not convinced that handwritten thank-you notes are noticed and appreciated (they are), pretend that I know more than you (I do), and do it anyway.

You can thank me later.

Posted by JD Hull at November 27, 2021 11:59 PM


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