― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I wrote another thank you note today. It was to someone who's been a good friend who has had a tough few months.
As I was writing the note, I realized that, just like my first note in the 100 days, I don't write these often enough. Also, it's one thing to write a note to someone for a tangible item, like a gift. It's completely another to thank someone "just because."
In the nonprofit world, we as fundraising practitioners often ask our volunteers to call someone to "just thank them for their support." Equally as often, our volunteers put it off. Why?
Because it's different to thank someone for something intangible.
So based on the first week of the 100 Days of Gratitude, here are my tips.
- Acknowledge that this thanks is "out of the blue." We live in a transactional environment. The recipient might think, "What are they buttering me up for?" Identify right away that this is not about getting something from them.
- Identify one concrete example of something they said or did that was important to you. I found that I was writing in vague generalities and it started to not make sense, even to me. If I used one example, then I could do the next step.
- Draw one or two conclusions as to how that thing impacted you and why you're grateful for it. It may have seemed pretty simple to them--a single phone call, a passed along opportunity, whatever--but it impacted you.
- Sign off with gratitude.
I'm already feeling that my next gratitude encounter will better communicate my appreciation for the recipient. Hmmm, who can I thank next?
(P.S.: It seems like all "thank you" stock photos include a fountain pen. Are thank you notes that old fashioned?)