The Art of “Thank You”: Expressing Gratitude in Today’s High-Tech Environment
Since the dawn of the so-called “internet” or “digital” age, some quiet voices have been lamenting that the simple art of saying thank you has been lost. With advancing technologies and instant communications, we can connect with anyone from any part of the world instantaneously.
This isn’t news anymore.
But with any advancement comes unforeseen consequences. As the means of communication have changed, so, too, has our actual communication. And one area that seems like an endangered species is the art of saying “thank you.” Somehow, sending an email, text, Facebook message expressing thanks to another person doesn’t carry the same emotional punch as a handwritten note. This may be one of the re remaining areas where pen and paper outmatch fiber optic cables or a Wi-Fi connection.
The question is: Why?
I think the main reason is simple.
Because it take more time to pen a thank you note than it does to send a quick text message, the receiver of that message knows that there was thought and intent behind the words of that message. Also, the time answer has multiple dimensions. Not only does the receiver of a message know that the sender took the time to actually write-out the communication, but it also takes time to prepare the note physically. A person may use a special kind of paper or ink to craft the message. What’s more, the sender has to actually go out somewhere in the analog world and purchase the paper medium to write the message on, and, again, this fact is not lost of the receiver. Time, money, and intent all play a role in saying “thanks.”
Saying thanks occurs in many areas of our lives. Whether it is at work, at home, among family or friends, or—especially—in the context of a romantic relationship, people seem to appear more emotionally satisfied, even surprised, when they received a personalized note addressed to them.
Writing a thank you note tends to shift things into a lower gear. Writing a thank you note also sends another—albeit implied—message. That you took the time to craft the message and the receiver must take the time to ingest it, on both ends of the communication line, something simpler emerges: A meaningful communication.
Meaningful communication is something all of us seem to crave. Of course, saying thanks via a handwritten note is a very specific type of communication, and using handwritten communication may not work in other contexts anymore (imagine a internet-less, pre-digital office seems impossible, although this was the case not so long ago), using written letters to express gratitude packs an emotional punch, which is why advocating for it—and doing it!—remains so important.
Finally, the next time that the opportunity emerges to express thanks in a handwritten form, rise to the occasion and do it. Communicating on paper may make an impression to the receiver, and it slows things down at a time when everything else has sped up.