Etiquette expert Ellen Reddick shares her insights and tips on how to make your thank yous more meaningful.
It is important to say thank you because:
- We recognize that someone had a choice – they didn’t have to send us a gift. We are not entitled to a gift.
- Saying thank you acknowledges our dependence on others. No man is an island.
- We should appreciate the act of giving and the time it took to think of the gift, buy it and wrap it.
- It is important to recognize the time it took, especially because we are a time deprived society.
- We acknowledge our relationship with the giver. It’s a simple sign of respect.
- If we do not express gratitude, our relationship might change because we show we don’t care about the other person.
- People give gifts because they are looking for recognition, respect and affection.
- If we are not thanked, we worry our gift was meaningless. By demeaning the gift, we demean the giver.
- By undermining the code of conduct, we belittle the worth of others. What we are saying is: I don’t have to thank you because you mean nothing to me.
- It is contagious. If you do something nice for someone, they will do something nice for someone else.
- If we start chipping away at gratitude and common courtesy, life becomes very unpleasant.
What are some traditional displays of gratitude?
- A simple verbal thank you
- A written note for a gift, help, sharing time, hospitality, and invitations
- Telephone call or e- mail
- Simple gift
- Gift of time: babysitting, car wash
- Rituals of gratitude and social skills serve as moorings – they provide security and structure
Thank you notes
- They should be hand written within 24 hours.
- 3-5 sentences are fine.
- Don’t begin: Thank you for the gift. Start with some news, how much you enjoyed the gift etc.
- Mention the gift by name, how you will spend the money or how the gift will be used.
- Emphasize the thoughtfulness of the person not the gift.
- Be positive and up beat. Do not be critical of the gift.
- A telephone invitation can be answered with a telephone thank you.
- A written invitation requires a written thank you note.
- We take a lot of people for granted.
- We ignore a lot of little common courtesies and kindnesses that are the basis of a civil life. Without them, life can become quite unpleasant.
Always Thank Someone
- For holding the door open.
- On the road – when someone lets you into a line of cars.
- For preparing dinner.
- For driving you to work or school.
- For serving you in a store or restaurant.
- We need to separate the act of giving from the gift itself.
- Appreciate the act of giving – liking the gift is a bonus!
For more from Ellen, go here.