Stop Sending (No) Thank You Cards!

Seth Partridge

Every year, I receive cards from several of the service providers in my life. “Happy Birthday!” or “Thank You” they read. Some cards offer handwritten sentences worth treasuring, and others are printed cards with a generic message and a pre-inked signature.

There are a lot of good reasons to send thank you cards. Some people send them to practice gratitude, or to show their appreciation with words of affirmation. Some send cards to differentiate themselves as a business, and others send them in the hopes of keeping customers engaged and purchasing.

There is, however, a bad reason to send a thank-you card: Sending a thank you card because you have to.

Two Types of Thank You Cards

There are two types of thank you cards. There are the genuine, personal, (and ideally handwritten) thank you cards.

Then there is the other kind — the ‘had to write this’ card. These cards amount to more of a ‘here is something I wrote my signature on and mailed to you’. I call this the ‘No Thank You’ card.

The first kind of thank you card is a great opportunity to truly appreciate (and wow) someone. We don’t affirm each other enough in today’s world. I believe that we would make our community so much better if we took the time to reinforce the great things people in our communities are doing. Taking the time to appreciate another person’s efforts will also deepen your relationship with that person, and they will understand that what they’re doing warranted your taking time out of your day to recognize their awesomeness.

The ‘no thank you’ card actually works against you in multiple ways. In essence, you’re telling the recipient:

  • I care about you only enough to send you something completely impersonal.
  • Here is some junk mail. (AKA, I hope you enjoy associating my business, and name, with the trip out to your recycling bin, and unnecessarily killing our forests.)
  • I don’t care enough about you to spend an extra 60 seconds to think and write something down about what you mean to me.

Ouch. This feels like a slap in the face.

This is so frustrating to me, because it’d only take a minute to go from a ‘no thank you’ card to a thank you card!

What’s the moral of the story?

Don’t waste your time sending ‘no thank you’ cards. Spend the extra minute and make your thank you, birthday, or congratulations card truly memorable by writing a sentence or two about what the recipient means to you. You’ll be glad you did.

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