Growing up, the most valuable habit my mom taught me was the art and discipline of writing a Thank You note. Christmas break was not over until she had cross-referenced our list of gift-senders with the pile of thank you notes waiting to be mailed. In an elementary school world of hand writing reports (gah - imagine!), writing 20 thank you notes in a week caused major hand cramping to my chubby 3rd grade fingers, and I did not enjoy it. Funnily enough, my fingers did not cramp from playing Super Mario Brothers - go figure.
But over the years, as emails became the norm and texts replaced phone calls, I started enjoying this ritual of hand-writing thank you notes. It was therapeutic for me, and I imagine it was exciting for the receiver to find something in the physical mailbox, both beautiful and with kind words.
So when I started working, I let this habit make an appearance at the office. Sometimes I can take it a little far. I had a colleague in Boston who would sweetly make fun of me for "writing a thank you note for the thank you note." But I did not let Cheryl get me down! :)
I still write notes when colleagues go out of their way for me. For example, when I traveled all over the world for my last job, I'd write (not type) thank you notes to our executives in Asia and Europe who had hosted me and set up all the meetings that allowed me to complete my assignments. After having launched a new product in London in 2014, I sent thank you notes to every single broker who'd purchased that product for their clients during our launch. And between Thanksgiving and New Year's, I send notes to a couple people who have really made a difference in my career during the previous year.
I must admit though - I still go through insecure periods questioning this habit at work, asking: "Is this stupid? Does this make me seem young? Does this exude executive presence? [And the dreaded litmus test] Would a man do this?"
But you know what? Even if the answers are yes, yes, no, and maybe, who cares? Who doesn't like to be recognized and hear something nice about themselves? No one, that's who. There is not enough gratitude and realness in the office, if you ask me. When done authentically, this simple act will make you stand out as both a teammate and leader, and help you get your job done.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! And on a very personal note, I can't thank you all enough for the overwhelming support, ideas, and readership you've gifted to me and this blog over the past couple months. We* cannot wait for more posts and development in 2016!
*We = Carolyn and Julie, not the Blog and Julie; that would be going too far.
Image courtesy of the geniuses at someecards