Thursday, March 29, 2012

EMAIL THANK YOUs...I HATE THEM!!! (c) By Polly Guerin

I hate “Thank You” emails. They miss the beat on social etiquette and reveal a person who thinks that an email is all that is needed when a written note is most likely the correct thing to do. For every step forward in electronic communications it seems that we have stepped backward as social communicators. People know how to use the computer and high tech devices but have forgotten how to connect with one another. That’s because thank you emails have no real voice, they are so impersonal, they lack sentiment, they make me feel like my largess is tossed off as if it meant so little that all that the sender need do is to email a one-liner thank you and be done with it. Nothing doing. Polly Manners says that if you want to make the right impression consider becoming the fashionably correct in these uncivil times.
THE BIRTHDAY LUNCHEON/GIFT When you have been invited and treated to a birthday lunch and a special gift is given as well it would behoove you to send a written thank you note as soon as possible after the occasion. That note, which in the old days was called, “a butter note,” can be brief, but it should include something about the gift and what pleasure you expect to derive from it. You might start your note with a one-liner, “Thank you so much for the special birthday lunch, sharing it with dear friends made it so special. I am also deeply touched by the gift of the (blank, blank) and it will bring me years of pleasure. I shall never forget this warm and touching expression of your friendship.”
THE DINNER INVITATION It may not be a special occasion, like a gala, but even if you are invited to dinner at someone’s home, the afterglow of the event should inspire you to send a written thank you note. If you are lucky enough to be invited to as a guest to a gala, a fund raiser dinner, or an organization’s annual event it is sufficient to say that a courteous hand written thank you note on your finest stationery is appropriate. For a gala you might say, “It was a pleasure to attend the (blank, blank) gala, and I thank you most heartily for inviting me to participate in the celebration, which was so impressive, and, for me, a memorable occasion. Sincerely, Your Name.
QUALITY NOTE PAPERS It is a good idea to invest in some quality note paper and letterhead, which can be individualized to your specifications. Or you can find some nice note cards at the Metropolitan Gift Shop with a gold icon of a butterfly or heart motif. Always have different quality note cards handy to dash off a thank you note. You can’t imagine the pleasure the recipient has upon receiving such correspondence. It actually makes a person feel that their effort to include you in a dinner or gala really resonated with your finest sensibilities. A note like a letter should express some quality of yourself in the language used and the form you choose in the shape and style of the paper, the color of the ink, and even the design of the postage stamp.
PLEASE AND THANK YOU I have noticed plenty of executive men and women who do not know how to hold a knife and fork properly, but the lack of kindness and consideration is far more egregious. The inability of people to relate to one another has really deteriorated. There are far too many people today that have not learned how important it is to take time to say, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘Please’ or ‘thank you. A gentleman friend of mine related how he held the door open for a woman who sailed through and never said, ‘Thank You.’ I recently stepped aside to let a senior person pass onto the bus before me. You bet, no thank you came forth.
FIRST NAMES BOTHER ME If you’re like me there is the inevitable phone call from a firm and the person on the other end of the line, a perfect stranger, addresses me by my first name. I’m immediately annoyed with this overstepping the boundaries of social etiquette. They might at least, ask first, ‘Do you mind if I call you by your first name?” I most probably would say ‘Yes.’ However, I never let my college students call me by my first name. It was always Professor Guerin.
Enough Said!!! If you are deeply moved by some experience, write a thank you note or brief letter. It will give the recipient great pleasure. Of course, the obligatory note can be avoided by the simple expedience of a brief telephone call, but it should recapture the moment and, yes, be sure to include your impression of the event that made it so memorable. But, don't blow it away and leave a message. You would have to call back when your host/hostess is available.

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