Have you noticed a bit of an edge to everything lately? Even The Atlantic recently wrote an article about how weird it’s getting out there: from driving badly to behaving badly, violence is on the increase and patience on the decrease.
Why? We’re all a wreck. We’re stressed out and not taking time and energy to take care of ourselves because after just living through a pandemic, we don’t have what it takes to make the effort. Taking care of yourself takes monumental effort. And if you’re a female entrepreneur, you score even higher on the stress scale.
But we are trying, evidenced by the hottest new class at the gym: resting classes. People are looking for gentle movement and places to rest. It’s almost like kindergarten naptime for adults.
More and more people are caring more about how they feel more than how they look, and I can only assume it’s because of the depth of misery most are experiencing. Our culture is fraying at the seams, and this coming apart is becoming more and more obvious.
As a woman feeling the weight of nurturing on top of today’s everyday stress, your frayed edges are a bit more frazzled than most.
How’s that for a bevy of doom and gloom?
Is there any easy fix? Nope. Are there things that can help? Definitely. And one of the simplest is to get back in touch with gratitude. When the frustration is mounting and you’re so sooo tired, it’s easy to start mentally piling up all your troubles higher than your favorite Saturday morning pancake stack.
Your homo sapien brain gives more attention and weight to bad things than good. We had to! Our survival as a species depended on it. You’re hard-wired to notice bad, dangerous, hurtful things. And old habits die hard.
On top of that, your brain is addicted to negativity. So much so that 80% of your thoughts are negative, and 95% repetitive. So not only do you naturally mostly think negative things, you repeat those negative things over and over. Addiction is a cruel master.
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to stay stuck in a grumpy funk.
What to do when the negativity spirals:
- When those bad things start piling up in your brain, stop for a moment and remind yourself that negative thinking is NORMAL. Don’t beat yourself up or chastise yourself. You’re just being human.
- Realize that you don’t have to stay in that negativity. You have the power to rewire your brain and train it to respond differently. Try taking a two-minute break and remind yourself of the good things that are happening.
Because yes, they’re in your life in abundance. You just have to remember to look for them. Here are a few almost every woman can relate to:
- Being alive
- Feeling emotion
- Something to eat
- Water to drink
- The kindness of strangers
- A good book
- Indoor plumbing
- Toilet paper
- Cat videos
Gratitude has a huge reward. Here’s what can happen when you express it in thank you notes for work:
When gratitude is flowing, people gel together better and faster. Whether your team is your co-worker in the next cubicle, your virtual team scattered hither and yon, the family you’ve chosen or the one under the same roof with you, gratitude will make you stronger together. When you demonstrate care and support and practice employee recognition, team members will begin to do the same.
Better Motivator than Money
You’ve heard the phrase, “You couldn’t pay me enough to do that!” While this is true for the crazy stuff (no thank you to cliff driving or skydiving), it’s also true for some places of employment.
Most people would prefer to work for a boss who appreciates them. So much so that the #1 reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. Gratitude boosts retention!
Negativity weighs you down, makes you feel tired and worthless, and kills motivation to give anything much effort. So while you may try to slog through for a bit, over time you’ll be searching for a job interview so you can add a bit of happy to your days. No one wants to endure an at-home business or a 9-5p in a company culture that mimics a giant black hole. Even if it pays less.
But you know this, right? You’re an entrepreneur. You put up with the crazy to have the thrill of doing what you believe in. That sweet gratitude can go at the very top of today’s gratitude list.
And yes, on the days the baby is crying on your lap and the toddler is throwing cheerios down the back of the couch, you still know in your knower that the business you built is perfect for you. (Just don’t forget that even as solopreneur you can have an employee recognition day to boost your company culture…)
Makes You More Sensitive Towards Others
The more you’re aware of all the good things in your life, the more empathetic you become towards others. You notice the hurts. You understand the highs and lows more compassionately because you’re noticing them in your own life as well. You walk through life more aware of everything when you practice gratitude.
“Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms lives in a myriad of ways consistent with the notion that virtue is both its own reward and produces other rewards.”Robert Emmons, UC David psychology professor, leading researcher on gratitude and author of The Little Book of Gratitude
In today’s world of email and text messages, a handwritten note is a forgotten treasure. Have you ever found one nestled in between the weekly ads and junk mail? Curiosity quickly turns to thrill as you pluck it out and multiplies as you read it.
That’s a feeling worth experiencing often! No matter how big or small the reason the thank you arrived, it’s an unexpected gift that keeps on giving.
And the writer gets to experience that same joy! The positive emotion and well-being comes simply through expressing thanks. So instead of overthinking things and worrying about being awkward, write that note. It doubles the world’s joy.
When you express gratitude to your colleagues at work, you help build a strong company culture. Even if you’re only a company of 2-3 people and your break room is your kitchen counter.
It’s Good for Business
Being quick to express gratitude is good for business. For all the reasons above, but also because people love to be around thankful people. You can easily make gratitude a key part of your brand.
Increases Likelihood of Repeat Purchases
I have three little rescue dogs that are very fastidious about their eating routine. They know it’s twice a day, at 8a and 7p. If I’m late, they’ll let me know.
Instead of having to think about the amount of kibble hiding in the dog food jar, I discovered Chewy a few years ago, an online website dedicated to everything dogs. (And cats, lizards, birds and bunnies too, if you’re wondering.)
When I signed up for Chewy’s recurring orders, I got a handwritten thank you note that mentioned my dogs by name. That note stayed up on my refrigerator for months — it was such an unusual gesture, one that I absolutely adored. I haven’t even considered another online service since. Their gratitude created a fierce loyalty in our family.
Generates Great Word-of-Mouth Opportunity
Expressing gratitude gets people talking. Who wouldn’t want to talk about a spark of joy they received in their mailbox quite unexpectedly? I smile every time I remember that silly little card from Chewy.
And while I’m sure they didn’t send the note for me to talk about it with my friends and neighbors, that’s exactly what happened. And here I am, 3 years later, still remembering. Gratitude makes a powerful impression.
Keeps on Giving
A thank you note has a ripple effect. You get to experience the joy of writing it. The recipient gets the joy of receiving it. And anyone who witnesses that gratitude gets a bit of joy as well. When I hear a thank you at the grocery checkout counter, I smile.
When I see someone hug someone else in gratitude, I almost tear up. The ripple effect of gratitude makes everyone a bit happier. A bit more willing to lend a hand. And a bit more determined to create their own ripple. Those ripples can be revolutionary.
When to Write a Thank You Notes for Work
Start writing thank you notes for anything. For everything. Just like all the reasons above, each week presents a myriad of opportunities to thank people for things. For a coffee meeting, a favor, a compliment, a gift, a referral, an above average Zoom call.
If finding things to write about feels difficult, start an appreciation wall.
This can be a cork board, white board, or sticky note collection. Keep track of the things that activate your gratitude. Not only will this help you write consistent thank you notes, it will encourage you every time you glance at it.
Write your thank you note as soon as possible while the memory and emotion are fresh, but remember — late is better than never.
Tools Needed to Write the Perfect Thank You
Don’t overthink the things you need to write a thank you note. You don’t need fancy cards or monogrammed paper. You don’t need a fancy fountain pen. For in the office or around the house, you can use a sticky note stuck to a cabinet or mirror.
Here’s a good list of what to keep on hand for those thank you notes you mail, so it’s easy to dash one out when the opportunity presents itself:
Notecard or paper
Use anything from unlined 3×5 cards to a sheet of lined paper to a pretty little note card. Have a stack available. (Having envelopes that match the size and tone of your cards or paper gives you bonus points.)
Keep a pen or pencil handy that flows smoothly. No one wants to use a scratchy pen! If you have plain paper or cards, consider a colored pen the happify things a bit.
Make sure your envelope is the right size for your cards or paper. You don’t want to have to figure out how to fold something to fit, or realize you have to cut off the bottom of your card to use your envelope stack.
Choose a stamp design you love — they come with so many different images! I keep a roll of forever stamps in my desk drawer with my pen and cards so I don’t even have to worry if the postage rate changes.
These days, it can be difficult to get a physical address for people. If you don’t have it, simply ask.
Know how to write it on your envelope. I recently realized that due to email and text messaging, most younger people haven’t mailed many things, so might not know how to properly address an envelope. That’s okay! Getting it right ensures it arrives where you want it to.
Here’s a quick tutorial on just that:
- Your name and address go on the upper left corner of the envelope.
- The recipient’s name goes in the middle of the envelope.
- The street address goes under their name.
- If they live in an apartment or suite, that goes on the 3rd line.
- The city, state, and zip code goes on the last line.
- The stamp goes in the upper right corner.
As you pull out your card or paper, pause for a moment to think about the reason you’re writing your note. Remember the moment you felt that rush of gratitude? Has it inspired you? Relive the moment in your mind before you begin to write. Try to be present in that moment once again.
While a note any time for anything you’re thankful for in the past is wonderful, a prompt thank you note is best. You’ll be closer to that moment of gratitude and all that happened in it and the recipient will have the experience fresh on their mind as well.
While it’s easier and often faster for us to type these days, a handwritten note is most meaningful. And rare! Even if you don’t think your handwriting is beautiful, handwrite your note. Enjoy this slower pace of communication — it slows down your brain and makes your really think about the words you’re using.
From the Heart
Don’t worry about getting it all perfect. Write from your heart, say thank you, and express what they made you feel. Just focus on being able to fully, sincerely appreciate the person you’re writing to.
Formula to Write the Perfect Thank You
While there’s no perfect or right way to write, it often helps to have a formula to follow. Not only does it ensure you include the most important parts, it allows you to spend your time and energy on your thank you instead of worrying if you got it right. Here’s one that will work every time:
- Specific Thanks
- What it will help you do in the future
- Repeat Thanks
The Salutation: Address them by Name
Address your recipient by name. I usually think about how I would greet them in-person. Consider how you generally approach people when you see them and choose a written greeting that is similar. It might look like one of the following:
- Hello, Lisa.
- Hey, Rhonda!
- Dear Ben,
- Happy Monday, David!
- Greetings, Team.
First Sentence: Specific Thanks
Jump right in to the reason you’re writing your note. Use the words, “thank you” so you leave no doubt in the recipient’s mind that you truly are thankful. Try something like this:
- Thank you so much for your time yesterday.
- Your work ethic is out of this world.
- Thank you for the book you gifted me!
- I appreciate the encouragement you gave me yesterday — thank you!
- Your advice was spot on — thank you!
- You keep things running smoothly each and every day.
Second: Personalize Your Thoughts
Their thoughtfulness spurred something inside you. Whether it was the thought behind the gift, what it means to you in your life right now, how it strengthens your relationship — whatever that personal part was, share it with them!
- I know how valuable time is, so the gift of yours means a lot.
- You’ve always been my best supporter.
- You’ve reminded me to stay true to who I am and how I am.
- It’s hard to find good work. You’re such a supportive colleague!
- I appreciate your support and friendship. You’re an amazing coworker.
Third: Future Focus
How will this thing you’re thankful for carry you into the future? This doesn’t have to be deep, but sharing this part will bring them great pleasure and let the receiver know you will continue to enjoy what they shared for a long time to come.
- I’m looking forward to finding various ways to apply your advice.
- This shift in approach you recommended will continue to make my business thrive in the weeks and months ahead.
- I’ve started the book you gifted — now everywhere I go I see why these shifts in mindset are so important.
- I look forward to providing him with the attention and personalized service that will help him build his efficiencies and effectiveness for years to come.
Fourth: Repeat thanks
Before you end your thank you note, repeat your gratitude. If you’re unsure how to proceed, try reading what you’ve written out loud. This repeated thanks may come a bit easier when you hear what you wrote more like a conversation.
- Again, thank you for your time.
- I’m thankful for your generosity.
- Thanks again!
- You’ve done a great job on this project. I’m lucky to work with you.
Close your thank you note with a heartfelt final gesture. You can choose a more formal, “Thank you,” or something from the list below.
The goal is to be you. If you’re a deep, quiet person, you’ll choose one direction. If you’re a gusher type, you’ll definitely close with a different phrase.
- With gratitude,
- You make such a difference in our business,
- Thank you for all you do,
- You’re so appreciated!
- You’re such an great coworker!
- Thank you for your continued support.
This formula for the perfect thank you will make the habit of writing thank you notes a bit easier — you won’t be stuck wondering how or what to write.
The key is to write the note. Make the intentional choice. Don’t worry about getting everything just so. The perfect thank you might be dashed out. But it’s perfect because it’s written from the heart.
A heart-felt thank you goes a long way in making the world a better place.
Let me know how this goes for you. I’d love to hear your story and your journey towards more intentional gratitude.