Now don’t be bashful. All of you who have ever kept a thank you card from someone please raise your hand.
You are not alone!
Many people continue to keep certain thank you cards they have received even after several years. And the interesting thing is that every now and again they will pull them out, take a peek and read them over and over again.
The Reason for Reading
Why do we do this interesting human behavior you may ask?
While I knew the answer intuitively as well as from asking attendees at my workshops, I thought I should make this a research question and find out what most people would give for their answer.
So I posed the statement, “Please indicate the MOST important reason for why you personally re-read certain Thank You cards over others.”
The options to choose from were as follows: (1) I want to recall the relationship between themselves and the sender, (2) I want to recall the level of performance given, (3) I want to recall the feeling of being acknowledged, and (4) I want to recall the action being acknowledged.
Hooked on a Feeling
If you guessed recalling the feeling of being acknowledged, you were right on the money.
In fact 59 per cent of respondents rated this as the most important factor, while 26 per cent said recalling the relationship of the sender. Only nine per cent want to relive the memory of the action being acknowledged and a minor six per cent want to recall the level of performance they gave.
Authentic Recognition has always shown that while performance reigns, feelings rule.
Making your Thank You a Keeper
Enlightened by the answers to why people re-read thank you cards, I thought it worthwhile to ask what made them keep specific thank you cards over a long time period.
This time various factors were listed for people to choose from that they felt were VERY important for why they kept certain thank you cards over others.
Top of the list with 84 per cent was whether the sender writes the card versus having an assistant do it. You may be saying, “You’re kidding, that’s pretty obvious.”
Well I speak from experience on this one. A CEO who attended several workshop sessions I presented at for their annual company conference, had their assistant send me an email thanking me on their behalf for the great job I had done. After all I presented over those two days this CEO still didn’t get it!
Next on the list with 67 per cent was the card or note should be handwritten versus typed. It shows you care and took the extra time to personally write the thoughts included in your note.
The Words You Use Are Critical
All right, so you took the time out to personally handwrite a thank you card and you did not delegate it to an assistant. Will those actions guarantee the note is kept and read over and over?
It seems another important factor for over half of the respondents (58 per cent) was the specific wording in the written acknowledgement. What you say can make a difference.
I invite you to use what I call my “Two Part Specificity Rule™.”
The first part of the rule is to write specifically what it was the person did that you are thanking them for. Secondly, tell them specifically why what they did made a difference to you personally, to your customers or to the company as a whole.
It’s All About Relationships
OK, go check those thank you cards you have kept again.
Notice anything about who they are from that might have some bearing on why you posted them on your wall or stowed away in that special place in your top desk drawer?
Yes, there is an important role in the relationship of the person who wrote the thank you card and why you are still hanging on to it.
So make sure you are making time to connect and develop positive relationships with your peers and the employees you are responsible for.
Side Notes to Perfect Notes
There were a few other, but lesser, points to also consider such as the timeliness of the card being sent (48 per cent), and the ease of being able to read the sender’s handwriting (40 per cent).
The nature of the task or action being acknowledged also had a small influence (37 per cent) and it doesn’t matter what kind of card you use as only 28 per cent stated the sender’s choice of card was an important factor. And mailing to the home or through the office mail mattered to just 5 per cent.
Now you know the secrets to writing a perfect Thank You Card.
Go and write your perfect Thank You note!
Make it a keeper that gets read again and again.
Question: What are your reasons for keeping certain Thank You cards over others?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.