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Why thank you

What do the following acts have in common?

  • Hand-crocheted baby blankets as congratulations for new parents.
  • Sent information interviewing and interview prep handouts, at no charge, to complete strangers.
  • Took pictures, made reprints, burned CDs or created movies and forwarded to friends and family after parties, showers and gatherings.
  • Emailed federal resume writer referral information to callers.
  • Emailed pet sitting information – 17 forms and contracts, along with website links and book titles – to several individuals wanting to start their own business. (I ran a successful pet sitting business for seven years.)
  • Gave birthday and Christmas gifts to friends and family.
  • Introduced people who could benefit from knowing each.
  • Forwarded links and articles of interest to help with or enhance a specific piece of business or personal life.
  • Did minor edits and revisions to documents at no charge for clients, long after project completion.

Do you give up? Here it is: I’ve done all of these things for people at one time or another in my life and the recipients never took the time to express thanks or even acknowledge receipt. No. This is not a diatribe on the state of society today, although it could be … but I digress. And no, this doesn’t mean no one ever says thanks either.

I didn’t do any of those things expecting a thank you. (OK, maybe a little.) But, I also understand the best intentions can get way laid in the busy-ness of life. I’ll continue to help people, and do and create for them with or without a thank you. The joy for me comes in the doing; not in the thanks.

Fine. I won’t lie. Hearing thank you is nice.

This leads me to my point. With the scarcity of thank yous being handed out today, imagine the impact you’ll have by taking a moment to utter those two powerful words – in a thank you letter after a job interview, in an email or a hand-written note when someone in your network gives you a referral, verbally and with a smile when a stranger holds the door for you. (I sometimes throw in a curtsy …Yes. Yes I do.)

And no, I’m not talking insincere, self-serving, useless platitudes. I mean take a moment and truly appreciate the fact that another human being stepped outside themselves for a moment to do something nice for you and recognize it. You’ll be remembered. Chances are they’ll do it again. And you’ll feel good for making someone else feel good, so you’re likely to pass it along … and pretty soon, we’ll be holding hands and singing Kumbaya together.

Wait … I got a little carried away. Seriously though, a big part of a job search is about differentiating yourself from the rest of the candidate pool. One easy way to differentiate is with two simple words –THANK YOU.

A while back, I read an article stating only 20% of job seekers ever send a thank you letter after an interview. (Of course, I can’t find it to cite now.) says 5% and says 10% – regardless, it’s a small percentage. In the article I read, it also said, of that 20%, 80% received the job offer because of the candidate took the time to send a thank you letter.

Anecdotally, a client told me, early in her career, she was offered a position because of a thank you. The decision was between to her and another candidate. Her after-the-interview thank you note arrived, it tipped the scales and she got the job. Powerful stuff, that thank you!

Oh, and one more thing, if you’re the nice person receiving a thank you, be gracious in receiving it. It wasn’t “nothing”. Say “you’re welcome” and if you want, tell the person how good it felt to be able to help.

Lest I don’t practice what I preach, thank YOU for spending a moment of your day with me.

For more of my thoughts on the power of thank you, you can read this post too.

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  1. Coach T says:

    The adage ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ comes to mind. The more gratitude we feel for others the more appreciated we become.

    Thank you for the reminder, Dawn! and well, just thank you :~)

    • Dawn says:

      Gayle (AKA Coach T) –

      You used my one of my FAVORITE quotes!

      As I get a older (and hopefully a little wiser) I’ve discovered this old adage to be true … If you look for the good, you’ll find it. If you look for the bad, you’ll find it. Taking it a step further, as you said, the more gratitude we feel for others, the more appreciated we become. Stepping outside ourselves if never easy, but the rewards make it worth the journey.

      Thank YOU for reading and commenting.

  2. Thank you, Dawn, for the reminder. How many times have you heard a job seeker say, “wow, they told me I was the only one who sent a thank you” – and it made the difference in being hired? Great points, good reminders for job seekers and for all of us every day! Thank you again, for being so quick with the cover letter pointers yesterday that created a great blog post! 🙂

    • Dawn says:

      Julie –

      More times than I can count. 🙂

      Back when I used to meet clients face-to-face, I remember sitting across the table from a big, burly Navy veteran; a handsome, fit, manyly man. We’d wrapped up with the information gathering and I took a moment to explain a few things about conducting a job search. I launched into my “lecture” on the importance of thank you letters. Before I could get out two sentences, his entire demeanor changed.

      “I’m not writing a thank you letter after an interview. That’s just crazy. That’ll make me appear weak and needy. Sorry, can’t do it Dawn.” Well, as you know, I have no sense, so I “took on” this wonderful soul (who could have crushed me with his pinkie.) I explained how few people did send a thank you, how it would helped differentiate him, how it put his name back in front of the hiring authority long after the interview, how merely seeing his name would cause the recipient to think about him, how it might even cause the reader to dig though the stack and re-read his resume, how it wasn’t only “Mama” reared a polite child; it was an incredible marketing tool.

      I literally saw the light come on in his eyes as he began to see the power behind being thoughtful and how it benefited both the giver and the receiver. And another convert was born. My heart leapt when he said, be sure to send those thank you note guidelines you promised when you deliver …

      Thanks Julie!!

      PS — always a pleasure to collaborate on posts with you. Thanks for the opportunity!
      Six common misconceptions about cover letters

  3. Hear! Hear! I am always saying the exact same things, Dawn. Common courtesy is no longer common so you DO stand out when you appreciate and acknowledge someone with a ‘thank-you’ AND a ‘you’re welcome’. I, too, feel it’s important to say “You are welcome.” It completes the giving exchange and makes the other person know you are worth the effort they made.

    I truly believe every person in this world wishes to be acknowledged and appreciated and a ‘thank-you’ is ALWAYS appreciated whether it be a verbal one or a card w/a handwritten note inside, or special gift (hand-made or otherwise)…letting the person know you are glad they are alive, that they exist, that they made a difference in your life. That’s all any of us ever want, isn’t it? Great post!

  4. Silly me! I forgot to say: thanks for writing this, Dawn and you are welcome. I enjoyed reading this first thing in the morning. Great way to start the day. 🙂 (wave)

    • Dawn says:

      Lisa –

      You’re welcome! You’re so right about how nice it is to be acknowledged. I kid with friends that I’m shallow, trite and petty and need to hear oodles of positive feedback about how wonderful I am. LOL. They roll their eyes. We laugh together and do a moment of “Mutual Admiration Society” exchanges. But in that kidding and laughing and having fun, is a modicum of truth: We ALL like to feel we matter.

      Excellent add to the conversation. I’m always happy when you chime in. Thank YOU!

  5. Dawn Lennon says:

    Oh my, Dawn, this is wonderful! My dad always told me he never did an act of kindness to get anything in return. But he was himself a man of huge gratitude for anything ever done for him. That always stuck with me, so as you suggest here, it befuddles me when others don’t seem grateful or show gratitude when they’ve been given a gift of time, gesture, service, or material. It says a lot about them.

    You truly lead by example! I was so grateful for the generous recognition you gave me yesterday in your comment at The Fortner Factor blog. You credited me with finding a wonderful post and then celebrated its writer. I doesn’t get any better than that! Thanks. ~Dawn

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Dawn!

      Guess I should go into my site’s dashboard more often … I find wonderful things like nice words from you when I do. 🙂

      It was my pleasure to give you recognition for sending me to that Fortner Factor blog post. And I’m glad it brought you a smile too. Thank you so much for stopping and commenting. We’ll do what we can to spread gratitude. Hopefully it’s contagious.

      THANKS! Dawn

  6. Cat Wagman says:

    Brava, Dawn! In the amount of time that it takes to decide (the internal argument between self and one’s own mother’s voice) on whether or not to write a thank-you, especially if it’s just 3-5 sentences, most people could have their first draft done.

    I also have had several people come up after a book event or presentation and relay having a similar experience when they wrote a personalized thank-you note to a company executive after an interview, and it became the scale-tipper between two equally qualified candidates.

    And I agree, that when someone does thank you for a kindness, etc., part of the graciousness you can nurture within yourself is to be willing to accept it without qualifications. I usually respond with a big smile and say “I appreciate your appreciation.” And, in some instances, just ask that they pass the favor along.

    One other observation that I want to share, is that many people experience writer’s block when it comes to writing their thank-you notes, and the main culprit is trying to write it directly onto their good stationery — without writing a first draft either on scratch paper or on the computer. Instead of thinking of creative prose, their mind shifts into “What if I ruin my good note cards?” An interesting thing happens after writing and proofreading a first draft, one becomes more relaxed when copying the text onto their note cards AND their handwriting improves automatically!!

    This is the basis of why — as the mother of two sons and as a professional writer — that I was able to help my kids improve their writing skills. After many volunteer presentations at area schools where I was able to share the writing techniques, I currently offer them in my book, “Why … THANK YOU! — How to Have FUN Writing Fantastic Notes and More.” By training my readers (kids & grown-ups) to be writers, they find that doing their thank-you notes becomes a breeze. Also, my hope is that they will be encouraged and inspired to write even more stories, poems, etc., for their own enjoyment!

    FYI, I have “Why Thank You” as a Google Alert, which how I found your great posting! Thanks again, Dawn! It’s nice to know that there is another kindred spirit standing on a “Soap Box” advocating the benefit of writing thank-you notes. It may be just one pebble thrown into society’s vast lake, but you really never know the extent or the ultimate effect of a personalized thank-you note.

    One last thought … your handwriting is a reflection of yourself and an extension of your personal voice. Your words, each time they are read, echo in the ears of the reader and elicit an emotional response. This is a powerful connection, one worth nurturing on a regular basis.

    Have a delightful day, Dawn!

    • Cat and Dawn, the combination of Dawn’s post and Cat’s insight is so motivating! I think this post should be in every job seekers tool box and thank you, Dawn for adding the link to Cat’s book. Critical in the day of too fast, manners matter. Cat, your non-qualification hit home for me too. I know I easily try to justify any thing people say to me. I’ll learn.

      The typing it out is a good idea! I appreciate that suggestion and I would guess other readers will too!

  7. Dawn says:

    Cat –

    How nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to add such meaty comments and excellent information to this post. I love you found me via a Google alert to the exact title of this article. Great minds work together whether they know each at the time or not. 🙂

    Thanks again for stopping by and supporting the importance of expressing gratitude in our me-centric world. I hope to see you here again.


    PS – If any of my readers are interested in Cat’s book, here’s the title again and the Amazon link:
    “Why…Thank You: How to Have Fun Writing Fantastic Notes & More”

  8. Jake Collins says:

    Thank you Dawn! We get so busy in our everyday lives that we forget the small things–like showing our gratitude for a kindness extended to us. Thank for this reminder and for “giving us a kick-in-the-pants”.

    • Dawn says:

      Thank YOU for visiting Jake. You’re right. We all need a “kick-in-the-pants” every now and then. Peeked at your site. Nice. Guess you figured out I had a pet sitting business too. 🙂 Drop by again … anytime.

  9. […] and build your network: don’t forget to say thank you. Taking a moment to follow up with thank you not only proves “mama reared a polite child”; it’s a great marketing tool. It […]

  10. […] skills and build your network: don’t forget to say thank you. Taking a moment to follow up with thank you not only proves “mama reared a polite child”; it’s a great marketing tool. It helps someone […]

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