Copyright © Shaun R. Fawcett
When I first started tracking the information preferences of people visiting my Writing Help Central Web site I was surprised to find how many folks were seeking information on how to write thank-you letters. In fact, “thank you letter” information and sample templates are the fifth-ranked destinations on that Web site.
However, I caution you to be careful if you conduct a “thank you letter” keyword search using an engine such as google or yahoo. Those top 10 or 20 search results will definitely give you the wrong idea about thank you letters in the broad sense. Looking at those results alone you’ll find that the vast majority of “so-called experts” seem to think that there is essentially only one kind of thank you letter ñ one written after a job interview.
However, that is just not the case ñ by a long shot. In fact, there are many different types of thank you letters.
The purpose of this article is to tell you the whole story on when to write “thank you letters”, as they apply to a wide variety of situations – both personal and business.
In reality, that common belief that “thank you letters” are mostly employment-related, is a very narrow view that fails to recognize the literally dozens of real-life situations for which these letters are often warranted. I believe that this proliferation of references to “employment-related” thank you letters is simply a reflection of the massive number of Web-based businesses involved in the online career and job hunting services industry.
When to say THANK YOU in Writing
The purpose of a thank you letter is self-explanatory. Write one when you want to formally thank a person, company, or institution for something they have done for you or your organization; normally, something which you consider to be out of the ordinary.
Simply receiving a contracted service as requested does not normally warrant a formal thank you. However, service provided to you above and beyond your normal expectations can often call for a special thank you letter. Normally, it should be a clear case of “above and beyond the call of duty”, as the saying goes.
And yes, thank you letters can also be important follow-up mechanisms in certain employment-related situations.
Generally speaking, there are two main types of thank you letters – business thank you letters and personal thank you letters.
Business Thank You Letters
There are many situations in business that can warrant a thank you letter. Here are a few generic examples of thank you letter situations for businesses and institutions:
- Appreciation for any type of special consideration extended by another organization.
- Thanking a speaker for a presentation at an annual board meeting.
- Customer appreciation letters – thanking them for their patronage.
- Thank you letters to employees for exceptional service or performance.
- Thanks to an individual or organization for a customer referral.
- Commendations to volunteer service workers for their personal contributions.
These are just a few typical examples. I’m sure you can think of many more situations that might demand a thank you letter from a business or institution.
Personal Thank You Letters
As with business situations, there are many instances in day-to-day life that can warrant a formal thank you letter. Following are a few typical situations that often require a personal thank you letter:
- As a follow-up after a job interview and/or job offer.
- To a company or institution in appreciation for exceptional customer service.
- Letter of appreciation to a teacher for a positive influence on your child.
- To friends and/or neighbors for their exceptional support during a difficult period.
- Thanks to a service club or agency for support given to your family.
- Social occasion thank yous, for a wide variety of social situations.
Again these are just examples. New situations similar to these arise on a regular basis in our daily lives that call for a formal thank you letter.
Sending thank you letters when appropriate is important in both business and personal life. Individuals and companies that do not send thank you letters are seen as ungracious and perhaps not worthy of future good deeds or special treatment.
So, whenever it’s warranted, make sure you send an appropriate thank you letter. Invariably, thank you letters are very well received and appreciated by recipients, and the sender’s reputation is generally enhanced in their eyes.
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