Professional communication includes a lot of thanks. It’s a go-to closing for emails, even those that don’t require action from the recipient. But when’s the last time you sat down outside of that 37-message-long email thread and wrote a thank you note to a colleague?
Freelance writer Emily Monaco recently wrote for The Muse about her efforts to increase the number of thank-you notes she writes. She started with friends and family members, but soon expanded her weekly practice to members of her professional network.
She thanked experts she had interviewed for articles, a journalist whose work she admired, and a former supervisor who had influenced her workflow. While she didn’t expect anything in return from the notes, she said, Monaco often found that there was an impact on her working relationships, even in subtle ways.
Take, for example, a note to an editor she enjoyed working with.
When one project with an editor I’d quite enjoyed working with came to an end, I sent her a proper “thank you” email saying as much. She wrote back, encouraging me to pitch again to fill an unexpected hole in her editorial calendar.
My note had reminded her who I was long after invoices had been filed, and it felt like our relationship had evolved from a transactional one to something more like true colleagues.
I like Monaco’s endeavour because it forces you to take time to reflect amidst whatever to-dos are on your list for the future. Maybe you’ve capped off a large project, had a professional breakthrough, or recalled a lesson from the past that’s been applicable recently.
Taking time to acknowledge others who helped make your progress happen — directly or indirectly — can help you see how far you’ve come and can prompt you to acknowledge your achievements.
A genuine note of thanks doesn’t need to take so long that it becomes another burden on your schedule. And it doesn’t need to be sent by snail mail if you don’t enjoy handwritten correspondence.
You can tap out a short email or even send a text message, depending on your relationship. There’s no need to gush — all you have to do is tell the recipient why you appreciate them or their work.