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During the holiday season many minds are focused on gratitude and giving back, but can you recall the last time you sat down to pen a handwritten thank you note?

Chances are it wasn’t too recent. In a world of instant communication, it has become common place to shoot a quick text or email to thank a colleague or friend. While a well written email can sufficiently convey your gratitude, handwriting your letter of appreciation can take things to the next level and is ultimately more meaningful to the recipient.

Whether in your professional life, personal life, or academic life, a handwritten thank you note is a small stone that makes a big splash – here are some ways that writing a thank you note can make an impact :

It’s Personal – While anyone can copy and paste a generic thank you email in seconds, the recipient of a handwritten expression of gratitude will know it was written with just them in mind. The recipient is bound to notice the extra effort you put in and appreciate knowing that you genuinely value the relationship you share.

It Helps You Stand Out from the Crowd – It goes without saying; in a culture where handwritten thank you notes are a rarity, going the extra mile will create a distinction between you and the other guys. Whether you are thanking a prospective client for their time or a potential employer for interviewing you – in a culture where handwritten thank you notes are reserved for wedding gifts – expressing genuine gratitude in this way is sure to set you apart from the masses.

It Doesn’t Take Much Effort – A common excuse for opting to send an email over a handwritten note is that it takes up too much time to write, address, and mail a letter. True, it does take marginally less time and effort to type an email, but it still takes under 10 minutes to compose a thank you note and drop it in the mail. If you are someone who struggles to find the time in their day (welcome to the club), try writing as you sit down to have your morning coffee or while on hold with customer support – you could write 100 thank you notes in this time!

It Feels Good – According to Psychology Today, a study at the University of Texas concluded that “the prosocial gesture of expressing gratitude in a handwritten note boosts positive emotions and well-being for both the letter-writing ‘expresser’ and the recipient of the stated appreciation”. In layman’s terms, the act of handwriting your expression of gratitude – much like eating a Big Mac or taking illicit drugs – releases chemicals to the pleasure center of your brain that improve your mood and cognitive functioning. What better drug than spreading gratitude and positivity?!

They’ll Remember – Just as the famous Maya Angelou quote goes; “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. The recipient may not remember exactly what you write, but if your note puts a smile on their face it is sure to stick in their mind when they think of you – something that will not be forgotten when they are considering you as a potential business partner or member of their team.

Getting into the habit of sending handwritten thank you notes after important meetings, interviews, or even a get together with friends can positively impact your relationships and the way people see you. Not only does it make both you and the recipient feel good, but it can open doors to new opportunities that would have otherwise been missed.

Not convinced? Here’s a challenge for you: try writing and sending a handwritten letter of appreciation to a different person every day for one week. At the end of the week reflect on all the ways that this exercise impacted your relationships and any encouraging feelings or interactions that came out of it and see the value firsthand!

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Kelsey Hamon

By: Kelsey Hamon

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