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Send Thank-You Notes; Real Ones

Send Thank-You Notes; Real Ones

It’s really easy to send email. It’s fairly easy to find and use a telephone number. So, what do you do when you really want to thank someone for something? I say, go back to the good old snail mail and send a Thank-You note. Here are some thoughts:

  • Get clever about the notes– Don’t just go buy a box of nice matching stationary (unless you’re a stuffy law firm or an actuary). Try something different, something eye-catching. Go buy comic books from the dollar bin and a package of mid-sized rectangle stick-on labels. Try cutting up matching-sized stuff that normally would go into your recylcling bin. Do something to set your thank-you apart from the rest of the mail. (Bonus- if you size it identical to a typical post-card and make it out of card stock (cereal boxes?), you can pay less to mail it (in the US at least).
  • Be specific– Don’t just send a “thanks” and sign it. Write something more direct, “Fred- It was great talking with you. I’m excited about posting the interview soon.” That helps people remember WHY they’re getting the thank-you.
  • Market just a little, but not a lot– Use the thank-you card to strengthen your brand, personal or otherwise. With my “Fred” example, maybe I’d add on, “Keep checking in at Lifehack.org for that interview.” Of course, I’ll email Fred when it’s posted, but he’ll get the thank-you card as a visual reinforcement. Bonus: if you make a really attractive note, they might post it at their desk, so consider having your URL or something visible on that side.
  • Do it quickly– Thank-you notes aren’t all that useful if you wait a few months to send them. Set a time limit of 2 days to get it out. Move this item high up your list of priorities.
  • Don’t email about the thank-you– It just seems tacky to send email saying, “Did you get that thank-you note I mailed you?” Send it and forget it. Then, if you want more contact, email the person on some other topic. They’ll be prompted to say, “Oh, hey! I got that thank-you note you sent, Chris. That was really clever. I can’t believe you sent me an empty tin can as a note!”

YOUR TURN

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What did this make you think about? Can you open up the hack a little more? What are some of YOUR best thank-you hacks? (By the way, you know who sends a GREAT thank-you note? Patricia Ryan Madson.

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–Chris Brogan writes about creativity and self-improvement at [chrisbrogan.com]. Add hisRSS feed. Oh, and would you be his friend on MySpace?

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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