Business Etiquette: Does Jimmy Fallon Have it Right?

July 27, 2015

Business Etiquette: Does Jimmy Fallon Have it Right?

We all laugh when Jimmy Fallon sits down to write his weekly thank-you notes, penning a thank-you to The Bachelorette for “featuring two women and twenty-five guys, or as it’s also known, the race for president” or to CBS “for cancelling CSI, and to most Americans for not being sure if that’s the one you watch.” 

It may be a joke, but Fallon’s routine reminds us that in many ways, thank-you notes have gone the way of home-cooked meals, reading physical books, and spending time outside instead of online. In other words, the process of offering thanks has been streamlined and digitized; now it’s something we do by text message or email in a quick “thanksV.” 

Why Take the Time? 

Now let’s think about what we’re missing out on by not writing thank-you notes on stationery—by not taking a pen to paper and considering what we should say to fully express our gratitude. When we write a note of any kind, we are sending a message that resonates with people. When we don’t, we are missing an opportunity to forge a valuable connection. 

In these instances, handwritten notes spoke volumes about the link between sending notes, and success:

  • Pro golfer Phil Mickelson’s caddie, who has made an estimated $5.25 million in his role, secured his job by writing an apology note.
  • Successful businessmen like J.W. Marriott wrote over 700 notes in one year.
  • Businesses like The Printery thrive on providing stationery for handwritten note lovers like Ralph Lauren and Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. 

If these successful and busy individuals could take the time to write notes, why can’t we? Are we any busier than Ralph Lauren or the editor of Vanity Fair? 

Think about the last time you did something nice for another professional. Maybe you sat down to have coffee with a former colleague, and offered them career advice. Perhaps you sent a gift to a corporate client.  Wouldn’t it have been nice to receive a hand-written thank you note, especially since you took time out of your day (and potentially money out of your budget) to accommodate/please them? 

We all win when we send thank-you’s. The person being thanked feels appreciated and acknowledged for their time. The person writing the note feels gratitude, which is good for their health.

How to Send a Thank You

Sadly, we don’t even seem to know where to begin when it comes to saying “thanks.” The younger we are, the more likely we are to send a text message, email, or even a Facebook message. We’ve all been there. It’s convenient, takes less time, and gets the message to the recipient instantly. It’s also a less memorable form of thank-you, takes too little time to truly show gratitude, and is more informal than a heartfelt thank you warrants. 

There are several ways to start showing gratitude, and they really aren’t that hard: 

A Written Thank-You 

A simple note on classic stationery will do. It doesn’t need to be more than a few words, simply saying, “Thank you very much for X. I really appreciate it because X. I look forward to talking with you again soon.” 

A Thank You For a Thank You

If someone sends you a present as their own thank-you, acknowledge said present via email, text or phone call. (Yes, there are times this is correct acknowledgement!) Let that other person know you received their thoughtful thank-you gift, and are grateful for their generosity. You aren’t entitled to a present, and even if the gift was given in a professional capacity, it still was not mandatory.

A Corporate Thank You  

In some instances, you’ll choose to be the one sending a present. If it’s a new client, and they recently started doing business with you, products branded with your company logo are great choices that acknowledge that you are working together. As you get to know one another, the nature of the gifts may change, from mugs with logos to holiday gift boxes filled with desserts.  Presents can vary, but your willingness to acknowledge someone’s business, good work or helpfulness doesn’t need to. 

The moral of the story? Give back to people in a meaningful way. Professional relationships need to be cultivated, like any friendship. Acknowledge clients and colleagues alike by sending them a thank-you that is more memorable and meaningful than any text or email could ever be.

 And thank you, Jimmy Fallon, for thanking people via handwritten notes. 


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