The Timeless Art of the Thank You Note

Our culture is becoming increasingly digitized in the way we communicate with one another. Email, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, texting, etc. are pushing other modes of traditional communication down our list of ways we prefer to talk with our families, friends, and coworkers.

I was watching an episode of a TV show set in the early 1960s and was fascinated to see a workplace without email. Seriously. It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when email didn’t exist. Can you imagine what it’d be like to actually pick up the phone or mail an envelope to get answers to all your questions?

With technology rapidly advancing, it can be easy to feel like leaving behind the modes of communication that seem outdated or inefficient. Aside from the things purchased on the internet or packages sent to loved ones, I wonder why I’d ever need to send something in the mail again. It’s called snail mail for a reason, right? And haven’t we already invented things to make the need for a stamp irrelevant?

While some of this criticism is on point, it effectively creates a huge loss for the way we love the people in our life well. By moving away from physical mail, we’re leaving a saddening casualty: the handwritten thank you note.

The handwritten thank you note has always been a staple of what it means to show gratitude, and our digitized world makes it even more profound. It is the deliberate choice to forego efficient communication in exchange for less efficient communication, signifying a deep appreciation.

Think about the times you’ve received a well-written thank you note in the mail. It made you feel good because you realized it took someone a lot of effort to get some stationary, craft a message, put it in an envelope, stamp it, and drop it in the mailbox. The person could have just simply written a tweet saying how much you meant to him or her, but instead they took the time to write the note.

When you go for a job interview, write a thank you note. When someone does something nice for you, write a thank you note. When you see someone do something nice for someone else, write a thank you note.

Thanking people is a great way to love them. As time moves forward, the value of the thank you note will continue to increase. It’s time to start writing.

Published by

Blake Mankin

Blake and his wife, Meagan, live in Houston, TX. He leads advocacy for Every Village, a nonprofit organization working in South Sudan.