How to Write a Meaningful Thank You Note

A simple method for a deeper impact

Thank you note

When is the last time you received a sincere thank-you note (electronic or written)?

I’m not talking about the quick “thank you” many of us add to the bottom of our emails, or the one sentence text (meaningful though it might have been.) I’m talking about a warm, inspiring note that caused you to pause and almost want to thank the writer for making your day.

Quality thank you notes are a lost art. We are living in a day of quick communication when people are juggling so many details in their heads that they may simply forget to write a thank you note for a gift, experience or favor. But it’s not as hard as you think. Here is an effective three-part formula to help you write the type of thank you message that will have the recipient thanking YOU.

The “You-Me-You” method goes like this:

YOU – point out the actual gift or thoughtful gesture you experienced because of someone else. It could be a tangible item, a service provided, or their presence at an event.

ME – write a brief acknowledgement of how you were affected by the gesture, how it made you feel, and the difference it made in your life (i.e. what memory it will bring up.)

YOU– compliment something specific about the person that is not necessarily related to the gift they gave you.

Now let’s practice. Let’s say Sally took Brianna to lunch for her birthday, and also gave her a cute necklace in acknowledgement of the special day.

Brianna could use the You-Me-You method in this way:

Sally,

Thank you for taking time to take me to lunch for my birthday. I really enjoyed spending time with you at a favorite restaurant, and the cute necklace was a nice surprise. When I wear it, I will fondly think of you and our friendship, and how much we laughed!

I am grateful for you. You may not be aware of this, but your cheerful spirit uplifts me and I frequently gain wisdom from our discussions. I am blessed to have you as part of my life.

Warmly, Brianna

Another tip: be careful in using superlative or trite words in a note. This can come across as over-flattering, insincere or cliche. Sally could have added words such as “always uplifts me” or “phenomenal necklace” but it might have sounded forced. Just be warm and honest without embellishing.

Now, how does that compare with:

Sally,

Thanks for taking me to lunch and giving me a necklace for my birthday. I really appreciate it.

Brianna

While any thank you is nicer than none, do you see how enriching the first note is compared to the second, without being much longer or time intensive? Which would you rather receive?

HOPE Unlimited is here to help you improve your communication skills. Want to talk over a specific issue? Sign up for a “Coffee with Beth” appointment to discuss it.

Question: What’s the best thank-you note you ever received?

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Beth Beutler is the Executive Director of H.O.P.E. Unlimited, a small business offering collaborative virtual assistance and business soft skill education to Help Overwhelmed Professionals Excel. She has over 25 years experience in administrative assistance and office management, soft skills training, and writing.