a well written thank you note: the perfect touch

I am sitting at my desk, hard at work, and my office assistant comes in with the mail. I have an inter-office envelope in my pile of mail and it feels like there is something more than just a bill or letter inside. Exciting! So I go on to open it. There are 30 hand written thank you notes and a typed letter from a professor in the College Student Affairs program inside. This made my week.

Why all the thank you notes? Well, about a week before that I went in with two other colleagues of mine to speak to the second year cohort of the college student affairs program in their capstone class. Their professor is having them work on “the art of writing a good thank you note” and so the entire class writes thank you notes to each presenter that comes in. The professor also types up a sincere and thoughtful thank you letter that she cc’d both of my supervisors on. Reading all of the thank you notes really not only made my morning that day, but totally made my week! As I am sure you can imagine how nice it feels to get that recognition in such a fast paced field like student affairs.

I leave with this… I think it’s pretty clear that being able to build relationships across functions or within your department is important to one’s success. Many articles and perspectives focus on networking and meeting new people. I think that is all well and good, but relationship maintenance is just as if not more important that the initial networking piece. I once heard a motivational speaker talk about how he would spend his Friday afternoons identifying 5 people that he wanted to thank from that week. He would write five thank you notes every Friday to people that helped him that week. I don’t know if five a week is sustainable or possible, but even one a week has potential to make such an impact on the colleagues one interacts with. And that, is the power of the thank you note.

Courtney O’Connell, Rutgers University



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3 responses to “a well written thank you note: the perfect touch

  1. Kelly Hennessy

    GREAT POST! I just had a co-worker share a thank you note that a student wrote to her about the impact that she made on her life. It was touching and helps you feel and understand the impact that you have on others’ lives, especially when it comes from a student.

    As one additional note of something that Patrick Love once said, an email is easily forgotten, but a handwritten thank you note gets added to his bookcase and is something that leaves an impression and a memory! I agree that a handwritten note goes a long way!


    • Krista Kohlmann

      The thank you note is a rarely discussed topic that actually deserves some attention. Every time I receive a thank you note (or multiple notes, in the case of the CSA class), I post it on my board as a display. I like the most personalized thank you notes – those that represent who you are in some way – more than any other. Buying notecards that represent your institution, personality, or relate to the matter at hand, are truly valuable to me.

  2. Vanessa Cooke

    Ah, the art of the thank you note. My Nana was the first to teach me the importance of a thank you note, and writing them serves many purposes: it teaches my six year old the importance of expressing her gratitude, and also strengthens her spelling; we are keeping alive an extinct concept – writing with a utensil!; we finally get to use that stationary; and, we can brighten someone’s day. Those are reasons enough in themselves to get out that pen and paper and express our thanks.
    To add to the importance of writing notes of any kind, in doing so, we are maintaining network connections. As we move through life, human connections are vital to ground us, to sometimes help us, and to keep us intertwined.
    Bravo to the professor who teaches his class how to write a thank you note; what a unique, and useful classroom exercise!

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