Guest Guru: Lisa Gache – Text, Email or Write: Decoding a Modern Day Thank You

Text, Email or Write: Decoding a Modern Day Thank You

By Lisa Gaché, Founder & CEO of Beverly Hills Manners, Inc.
In today’s world of electronic communication, the ritual and art of writing a thank you note by hand has become almost extinct. After all, who has the time when we’re just struggling to keep our head above water and complete the umpteen tasks already scheduled before day’s end? Yet, if we think about it, it is the thoughtful handwritten note that we tend to keep in a special drawer to refer back to year after year, not the generic looking thank you email that is sitting in the in-box of our computers or PDA’s.

Determining what method to use to say “thanks” should involve a certain level of kindness and compassion, as well as some investigative work. There are many variables to consider when making a decision as to whether it will be acceptable to send a text, email or handwritten note. The main issue, no matter which form you choose, is to always convey respect and appreciation to the recipient. Second, it is important to think about the person you are thanking. Are they formal or casual in their behavior? Are they older, in which case they may tend to be more traditional or are they younger and more technologically savvy? The standards and practices of the recipient will often dictate the sender’s type of thank you. Following is a list of tips and scenarios for decoding a modern day thank you.

Anatomy of a Thank You Note.

Whether electronic or handwritten, a proper thank you note consists of three parts: (1) saying “thanks” at the beginning and end of the note, (2) naming the gift, event or act of kindness you are acknowledging, and (3) including a unique detail or high point to describe your thanks. A thank you note should also begin with an appropriate salutation and end with a complementary closing and signature.

Make it Personal.

A well-expressed thank you note is one of the most important letters you will write. It is meant to embody a bit of your personality, not only in the words, but in the stationery you choose and in the handwriting. Often these notes are saved and read by others and may be put on display. The paper should be neat and clean, the message should be clear and succinct, and proper spelling and grammar should be used. Everything about the letter is a reflection of you.

Act Immediately.

Because we live in a 24/7 world where immediacy is expected, electronic thank you’s should be written within a 24 hour time period and handwritten communications within a 48 hour time frame. Thank you notes for a special occasion such as a wedding or other celebration may be written in small doses after the event has occurred to thank guests for coming or as gifts are received.

No Excuses.

There are no circumstances that excuse us from writing a thank you note. Everyone appreciates receiving a thank you note in one form or another. A thank you note should be written for all gifts received, an overnight stay, after attending a special dinner or party, or when someone has done a favor or performed a special act of kindness.

Texting is Better than Nothing.

A text is probably the most casual way to say thank you and should be used sparingly. It is certainly better than nothing, but should be reserved for minor acts of kindness or as a last resort such as needing to send a quick thank you before boarding a plane. Texting is big in the dating world and therefore a text thanking your date for a lovely evening may be the perfect way to convey that you are interested in seeing them again.

Emailing is Still Second Best.

It is perfectly fine to send an email initially to say thank you for anything from a dinner invitation to a birthday celebration and it is probably the most efficient way to say thank you to a group, however, it is strongly recommended that you follow up special invitations with a handwritten thank you as well. An email thank you will suffice for smaller acts of kindness including thanking someone for sending flowers or for helping with driving or errands or for loaning an item.

Handwritten Thank You’s Mean the Most.

A handwritten thank you note should be the preferred mode of communication for all gifts, special occasions and other acts of kindness offered by friends, family or professionals. Think of it this way, a handwritten thank you to a doctor is often treasured and displayed on their office walls for their patients to view. These notes are testimonials and validations of the quality service and expert care they provide. Imagine that each thank you note you send has the same impact and value on others and let that be your guide to ensure you always say thanks in the most appropriate manner.

For more tips on manners, visit Beverly Hills Manners, Inc.

About the Author
Lisa Gaché is the foremost etiquette, manners and life skills expert for children from a parenting perspective. The Los Angeles Times named her company, Beverly Hills Manners, the etiquette school to “teach your kids to be polite.” This educational and entertainment company, founded in 2006, is recognized for its new school approach to etiquette and manners. Gaché’s relatable persona and style makes learning manners relevant, entertaining, fun, interactive and informative. Gaché is currently writing her debut book—the first fun and humorous parenting guide on manners for kids and teens that will include quizzes, takeaways, celebrity quotes, and useful information that is presented in a fresh way for modern families. Gaché resides in Beverly Hills with her husband and two children, Sydney and Dylan.