Should Saying ‘Thanks’ Require A Stamp?

June 10, 2013

This time of year there are a lot of gifts being given as millions of young adults head off into the “real world” after graduating from high school or college. These kids never knew a world without computers or cell phones, so does that mean they also don’t know a world where handwritten thank you notes exist?

I remember receiving many wonderful and thoughtful gifts for my high school graduation (10 years ago to be exact), making a list of who gave what and then sitting down the day after I received them to write personalized notes. This handwritten note, on stationary I created, thanked that specific someone for not only the tangible gift they gave me, but also the role they played in my life until that point. Could all of that gratitude be conveyed in a text message or an email?

The etiquette professionals out there say you should determine your audience when expressing your thanks. If you received a gift from your grandma, a written note is your best bet as they are of an older generation and not accustomed to a text as a thank you. If your 13-year-old niece helped you rake leaves, a text or shout out on Twitter might suffice.

In the business world, email rules the roost. According to a 2012 Accountemps survey, 62 percent of hiring managers said email is the most common form of “thank you” they receive from job candidates. Less than 25 percent of hiring managers reported that a phone call is the most common “thanks” and only 13 percent said a written note is most common.

Maybe the medium in which the thanks is sent is not even the issue, and just acknowledging the gift given is enough. Personally, I love writing and receiving hand written thank yous. I find that reflecting on how it feels to be given something special by someone else makes me feel especially thankful for those lovely gift givers.

However you do it, just do it.

Bottom line: whether it’s digitally or hand written, saying thank you is still the polite thing to do. A few things to think about when doing so:

  1. Don’t wait. If it’s a thank you for an interview, within 24 hours will ensure that your name is still fresh in their mind. For a wedding or graduation, within one to two months of the event is appropriate.
  2. Keep it simple. Three or four sentences will allow you to acknowledge their gift, thank them and wish them well.
  3. Put some thought into it for goodness sake. A little inside joke or funny incident that happened at the party will put a smile on their face and let them know you really remember and appreciate their gesture.

So whether you chose the old school hand written way or like to say it digitally, it’s still cool to be courteous.