Are you a perfectionist when it comes to trying to craft the perfect thank you note?
If so, Dan Ariely has some solid advice for you in the email exchange below.
I know I should probably write thank-you notes for the holiday gifts I received, but I’m bad at composing them. I end up wasting lots of note cards with rewrites that still end up sounding insincere. I’m starting to wonder if this endeavor is really worthwhile. —Amit
And Dan’s reply:
Keep going with your thank-you notes! Expressing gratitude is incredibly worthwhile and easier than you think.
What you’re experiencing is a basic perspective-taking problem. Many people share your worry about finding the right words to express gratitude and about sounding sincere. People on the receiving end, however, value a thank you of any type and tend to pay more attention to the warmth of the note than the quality of the writing.
To study such “gratitude mis-calibrations,” researchers asked people to write thank-you notes and then predict how they thought their expressions of gratitude would be received. Then they asked the actual recipients to report how the notes affected them. Senders predicted that recipients would experience an average happiness rating of three (on a scale of one to five), whereas the actual recipients rated their happiness at 4½.
Perhaps because we underestimate how happy our expressions of thanks make others, we let unnecessary concerns get in the way of conveying our gratitude. The best way to motivate ourselves to write thank you notes may be to experience receiving them—in which case, allow me to express my thanks to you for sending me this question.
I have to admit I don’t really have this particular problem; my first draft of a thank you is usually my final draft.
I have a bigger problem.
Procrastinating or completely forgetting to send a thank you note.
But I think the research study Dan cites is still relevant. I know how much I enjoy receiving thank you notes, so if I could just remember that when it comes time for me to send me one, it would make it much more likely that I’ll remember to send one.
So now that I’ve publicly committed to writing more thank you notes, let me begin by thanking all of you who follow, read, like, or comment on my blog posts. It is greatly appreciated.
And if someone from the Republic of the Congo read my blog, I’d be quite grateful… 🙂
*image from the Maralee McKee Etiquette School of America