Making a Thank You More Meaningful

A vendor I do business with recently told me how much a thank you note I’d sent two years ago had meant to her.
In fact, she told me she thinks about that note nearly every time we talk or exchange emails. Wow, really? I couldn’t help but wonder why it had made such an impression. So, I asked her.


First, she said, most people — clients or not — never send thank you notes. If they say thank you at all, they do it face-to-face at the moment a service or gift is being exchanged. Second, she said that my note had been heartfelt and very specific in acknowledging the exact gift she’d sent and why it had meant so much to me that she’d sent it.

Remarkable, isn’t it? The smallest communication — a simple thank you note — can have an enormous impact on your relationship with someone.

Expressing thanks can help build rapport and make your future interactions with someone both more memorable and rewarding.

In business, this can be especially helpful. So, inspired by my vendor, I thought I’d share a few tips for making a “Thank you” as meaningful as possible.

Be specific.
Have you ever received a generic thank you from someone? How’d it make you feel? You probably knew the person sending it felt obligated to say thank you. At best, their expression of thanks had no effect on you, positive or negative. At worst, it made you feel unappreciated and may have caused a tiny fissure in your relationship with that person.
When thanking someone, specifically tell them what you’re thanking them for. Talk about the act or service the person performed or the gift they gave you. Tell them how it made you feel and/or in what way it improved your quality of life.
Be genuine.
You don’t want to be too curt, but neither should you be effusive. A simple “Thank you for…” goes a long way and takes so little effort. Let’s say you received a gift you don’t really like, but you want to acknowledge the sender. You’d never say, “Gee thanks for the sweater, but it’s not something I’d wear.” On the other hand, you don’t have to lie and gush about how much you love the ugly sweater.
Instead, find what it is you are genuinely grateful for. For example, “Dear Aunt Edna, Thank you for the warm sweater. It was so thoughtful of you to think of me and the cold winters we have here in Montreal.”
Make it personal.
If you’re thanking someone you know, use their name when you say thank you. And, if you know something about their personal or professional interests, try to thank them in a way that acknowledges those interests and shows you’re paying attention to — and value — what they’ve talked about with you in the past.
Write it down.

Always thank the person face-to-face when possible, and then write a “Thank you” note later, too. When you send a written “Thank you” note, you demonstrate that what the person did was meaningful enough to you, that you took more time later to reflect on it and write down what it meant.

An added benefit of the written thank you note is that when you do send one, people are more likely to remember you. Sadly, people rarely send them anymore.

I’m a huge believer in saying thank you for each generosity I encounter. Why?
  • I believe even the smallest kindness or helpful act deserves my acknowledgement and gratitude.
  • It makes me feel good.
  • It makes the other person feel seen, heard, and valued.
  • “Thank you” is reinforcing, whereby the person receiving thanks is more likely to continue to contribute their goodness to the world.
  • It strengthens my relationships with colleagues, clients, friends, family — anyone with whom I interact.

So, thank you. Yes, you — the one reading this.

Thanks for taking the time to consider what I have to say.  Thanks for being curious enough to open the email Mandel sent you or to visit our blog. No doubt, people are vying for your attention all the time. You probably have more things to do in a day than time to do them. You didn’t have to read this, but you did. And I appreciate it.

Here in the states, people will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow and most businesses (including Mandel) will be closed Thursday and Friday, which is why Mandel’s blog is publishing a day early.

To those of you celebrating, I hope you have a joyous, relaxing, delectable day with the people who are most special to you. To those of you who are not celebrating, wherever you may be and whatever you do, I hope you, too, feel valued and appreciated for who you are and for the contributions you make to the world around you.

Picture of Steve Mandel

Steve Mandel

Steve founded Mandel Communications in 1983. He is a renowned presentation skills trainer and coach and the author of the highly successful book Effective Presentation Skills. In addition to serving as a key Mandel company executive, Steve thrives on working directly with clients in one-on-one coaching and group workshop settings. He has a deep understanding of the communication challenges faced by professionals and executives in high-stakes settings and works with clients to pinpoint and address mission-critical communication needs. Steve's business success and his avocation as an accomplished amateur astrophotographer have earned him special recognition in Forbes magazine.
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