Perhaps it is social media; after receiving 64 Happy Birthday’s who wants to write a single thank you note for all of them? Instead we write one post and say: ‘Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes’. Perhaps it is because stamps are too expensive and a box of cards breaks the budget. Or, some argue that the digital age has sequestered people so much that they have forgotten how to communicate. Or perhaps, no one has taught, what I will cautiously call the younger generation, just how important the words, THANK YOU, really are!
In my early years of sales I recall having some customers who I would consider mentors. I had a few that liked me, for some reason. I am fondly grateful for in particular a client named Gary.
Gary was in charge of the Telecomm department at the old Frigidaire business office in Columbus, Ohio. He took me under his wings and for a while I knew I was being tested. One day I was finally able to have a face to face meeting with him in his office. It came after making many attempted calls to snag the appointment.
Gary said, ‘I like sales people who do what they say they will do, have integrity, and are always appreciative for the business I give them. If you are that person, I will do business with you.’
I accepted the challenge at this large account
Whatever Gary asked for I would do my best to get a response to him as soon as possible. He asked for information; I researched and found the answers and got back to him. He asked for meetings with the manufacturers I represented; I set them up. He asked for quotes on products; I turned them around and got it to him as fast as I could type, and dropped them in the mail.
One day, in the mail, I received my first purchase order from Frigidaire. The purchase order was made out with my name boldly typed in the recipient line. I couldn’t believe it, full list price for a 1200 baud modem at $1295.00. I was so grateful I immediately picked up the phone and called Gary to thank him. He replied with a ‘you are welcome, and thank you also for helping me with several projects of mine, you earned it’.
I also pulled out my stack of thank you cards and wrote Gary a nice thank you note, personally. Even though my handwriting is atrocious, I wrote a few sentences thanking Gary for giving me the order and for doing business with me.
Thereafter, Gary would send me purchase orders on a regular basis. Fifteen years later we were having lunch and I asked Gary why he had been so loyal to me for so long. I added, especially as competition arose and equipment could be bought from a myriad of sources at a lower price. He said when you first came in I knew you were just starting and I was happy to help a young salesman start off, and against all the other blue suits you rose to the top through the initial tests I gave out. You not only did everything I asked for on a timely basis, but you were also thankful for every order. You sent me more thank you cards than any salesman I had ever worked with. Nobody does that anymore. And that was twenty years ago when he made that statement.
He added, likewise I am thankful for what you do for me. I believe I should reciprocate by giving you orders for your hard work.
Today the hand written note is a rarity, but it is not obsolete. As a matter of fact, because it is a rarity, it just may be the very thing that can set you apart from the rest of this ultra-competitive field regardless of the role you are playing. People remember sincere, appreciative messages. Thinking of writing one but do not know how, check out this link for instructions on how, when, to whom you should send a written thank you note.
My purpose in writing this mini-story on Thank You Notes is not to show my old age and try to bring back old school thinking. Frankly, it is because so many people I interface with today seem to have thrown their thank you manners out the door. No one is touting how ‘not busy’ they are so save the excuse of not having time to thank people for what they are doing, and have done for your benefit. Few people ever complain about getting too many complements or hearing the word ‘thank you’ too often, at least in face-to-face type relationships.
Most people are fairly good with verbal thanks when provided a service, given an order, or after receiving personal gifts. Verbalizing thanks with statements like, ‘I really appreciate your business, thanks’, typically rolls out easily. But words alone are quickly forgotten. If they are not followed up with an additional step expressing sincere thanks, then the words float off into the atmosphere and have little impact.
With all the ways of communicating available; phone, voicemail, email, texting, and various social media platforms there are few excuses for not taking the time to follow-up with digital three word response such as; Thanks again for ______ (what you did). Or as snail mail and fax machines have disappeared an I.M./text to Gary saying, I sure appreciate the order you sent via EDI this morning, goes a long way. When did you last receive or send such a message to someone?
On the flip-side is the watering down of quick replies that may become annoying due to constant communications via social media. Mark Schaefer, renowned social media consultant, writes about ‘Why he stopped saying thank you on the social web‘. For you who have 1000’s of followers on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, tweeter and dumber, it certainly may be applicable to consider his advice. But I seriously doubt how many of you fall in that category.
This topic addresses those whom we are dealing with face to face. We have become a society that has allowed 14 (yes I know it is 144) letter communications to un-personalize our relationships. It is time we are reminded to re-set personal communications and insert our human-ness again.
I have been a part of training, for free, a number of sales people and various groups both via webinars and face to face sessions lasting from an hour-long to several days. Out of the 1,000+ people I have interfaced with for these varying presentations, less than a third provide a thank you for the time verbally, less than 10% send some type of digital thank you, and to date, I have not received a single handwritten thank you.
I have polled teachers, trainers, webcasters, and others who likewise perform similar tasks; many agree the thank yous are rare.
On the family and friend side I am at times embarrassed for parents of children who have not coached them to write thank you notes. We chuckle at the story of the couple that cancelled Christmas due to their kids being ungrateful.
I have to be careful as some of my readers are personal friends and relatives, but a little toe stomping may be in order as I have heard other people talk about ending gift giving to ones who appear ungrateful. The number of times we have given generous gifts for birthdays, graduation gifts (even elementary school graduations), weddings, baby showers, and supporting ‘go fund me’ situations without receiving a note of thanks is astonishing. Parents need to help little Johnny learn that sending a thank you note not only reflects on them, but on the parents as well. And if Johnny does not bother to send a note from his birthday party and elementary graduation party, some givers will remember that come high school and college graduation day.
When did you last receive a handwritten thank you note from someone? When was the last time you sent a handwritten thank you note to a customer, friend, mentor, colleague, Pastor, boss?
For further discussion, consider reading further on regarding the importance of thanking people for supporting charitable endeavors, but put on your steel toed shoes if you dare to enter Joe’s Portico.
(If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, please read the Do you Dare tab to understand the shift, tap the red line before you read below and come on back ‘if you dare’)
Those who know me have probably gotten to the point of wondering if I know any other story in the Bible besides the one about Jesus healing the ten lepers. We all have heard it but I love most the reaction of the one who said and did more than the ‘good manners thank you’. Something tells me the other nine certainly had to be thankful. I’ll bet they all minimally gave a wave and a nod like most of us do when someone stops their car and allows you to cut into a line of cars. But one of them did more:
15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 15, NLT)
The Samaritan did much more than the other 90% and went down in Biblical history as an example for all to follow. Not only did he say thanks but he went above and beyond to show his appreciation for what was done for him. People who are thankful towards other people are also ones who regularly thank God for all He has done for them. Without thankfulness, it is impossible to praise. Without praising God, it is even more impossible to worship. Therein lays the proof of how much faith a person actually carries.
It is marvelous today that so many people are ‘trusting God’ to meet their needs. Many have boldly stepped out in faith (like those Lepers did when they began walking) and started ministries, taken mission trips, pursued ministry type education, and other noble charitable pursuits. All of those require sacrifice.
It has become commonplace to ‘raise funds’ for these noteworthy things.
I will not go in to personal examples as any time someone takes a step of faith it is worthy of praise.
I will pose questions though for consideration:
After someone has spent time helping you fulfill a dream that is on your good heart, have you thanked them for their time as they helped you build, helped you move, helped you create, and provided resources to make it happen? Have you thanked them for sound advice? Have you thanked them for their prayers and participation in the events you hold to begin the endeavor?
Have you thanked them beyond the spot of the moment words for monetary gifts?
As discussed previously, this may be done with more than words via a follow-up email or even thanking them on a social media site, typically privately. I recently had someone express their thanks for a fund-raising need by publicly thanking all of those who gave to her ministry. While the giver should not give solely for the purpose of receiving recognition, the next time I have limited resources, but multiple requests for help, I certainly will place this person higher on the list of repeat recipients ahead of those who did not take the time to express their gratitude.
Point blank question for those who have begun a ministry or raised funds for a mission trip; did you send a thank you note to every person that gave to you? Do you send follow-up notes telling stories of how those funds have produced blessings to you or your ministry? Honestly, I believe that is a mandatory requirement just as customarily it would be for sizable birthday and graduation gifts. Perhaps size matters, but in reality, if one hopes for a continuance of support in the future or a repeat of a mission support in the future as an example scenario, personal thank you messages should be sent
Have you thanked them beyond the spot of the moment words for referrals that have turned into monetary gifts? This could be just as important if not more important, also requiring an extra thanks in the thank you note, or an additional separate one at times. Good sales people know that one sale could turn into 100 if a happy customer tells others about their experience.
As toe stomping and joining in the world of criticizing people is something I am consciously looking to avoid, I will end with the words of Ted Cruz, let your conscience be your guide. If you are one who was not taught the principle of taking the time to go above and beyond to thank people for what they have done for you, vow to do it right (write) in the future. And it may not be too late to eat humble pie and go back to some you have missed in the past.
Jesus was posed with the question after his sermon regarding caring for other people in Mathew 25:
44 ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ 45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
To the givers, which we all should be generous givers, the words ring loudly with conviction. But those same words also should resound to the receiver. It is easy to say I am thankful to God for what He has done for my life. But the true measurement of your understanding and real thankfulness, is how thankful are you for the people who are in your life today and for the big and small things they have done for you?
We talk often about people of entitlement. Sometimes it seems that Christians think it is not necessary to thank people for what they have done because they have ‘done what they should do’ and God prompted them to give that money or give that time to ‘My’ worthy cause. While publicly praising God is a must, as He truly is the one that prompts and leads people to give, it is important for our own character and gratitude to also thank the givers. Otherwise you appear like one of the nine lepers that were healed and went on with their lives not appreciating what Jesus did for them.
Which one are you?
Here’s praying this has inspired you to be grateful for all God has done for you and for the supporters He has put in your life. May it help you be constantly thankful to those God has put in your life to support you on earth both for earthly and spiritual needs. And may it make you a Thank You Note Writer.
I know this is touchy subject, please share in the comments your experiences with giving to others. How does it make you feel when you give a gift and receive no thanks? When put in a situation to help multiple people but you must choose only one, how do you choose? Maybe you are on the receiving end, has this inspired you to respond differently than you have before?
Please share away, and if you are really inspired, be sure to Like the article on my Average Joe Facebook page, I might even say thanks if I see it.