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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Tremendous Power of a Thank You Note

Disclaimer: I'm not nearly so good at writing "thank you" notes as I should be. But I try, I really try.

Lately, I've been spending at least a portion of my day writing them. And I think quite possibly that a "thank you" note is the most accessible form of magic that we can create. I've noticed that writing them seems to make me happier--and that shouldn't be surprising. Martin Seligman, the psychologist, found that people can improve their overall feelings of happiness by writing a letter to someone who made a positive difference in the writer's life. So, it seems to me, that even a short note of gratitude reminds me that I have much to be thankful for. It causes me to pause and pay attention to the myriad of small generosities of spirit that come my way.

Of course, it also creates magic in the recipient.

Last weekend when I was at The Big Read, I finally got to meet Danielle from Left Bank Books, the young lady who organizes their author events, in the flesh. She and I shook hands and then she thanked me for my "thank you" note. In fact, all the other Left Bank Books employees in the booth weighed in, telling me how much they'd enjoyed what I said.

I wrote about how it felt to stand in the place where so many greats had stood. (You can read my blog about it, and that's pretty much a longer version of what I said to them when I wrote my note.) I took the time to think through why that event was special to me. Whenever I write a "thank you" note, I try to figure out exactly and specifically why I'm saying thanks. Just a blank "thank you!" doesn't really cut it. That's a cop out.

While the group from Left Bank Books thanked me for the "thank you" note, one of the owners Chris came over and joined our conversation. She told me about their plans for their second location and I told her I'd love to be involved.

Was it because of the "thank you" note? I don't know for sure, but I bet it was, at least in part. You see, I think we enjoy working with people who are appreciative. Why wouldn't we?

So if you are feeling stuck, or low, or like your marketing efforts aren't bearing fruit, instead of asking for more, maybe you should stop a minute and say "thanks."

Couldn't hurt.


Anonymous said...

This is so true. And it isn't just about notes. The verbal thank you is so underused and it makes such a huge difference.

I never realized how little I said it until I became an author. It really makes the readers smile.

Karen Syed

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

We just can't say it enough, can we? Especially, giving a handwritten note to someone, something that took a bit more time and thought than an email.

That reminds me, Karen, I've always enjoyed you. You have such a bright, sharp intellect. You are so good about giving back to the entire writing community, not just to your authors. I wish you every continued success.