Career

Thank You Notes Are More Important for Business Relations Than You’d Expect

A brief thank-you note might not seem like a big deal, but according to Heather Murphy’s recent New York Times article — recipients appreciate notes more than most expect.

Business event strategists have a whole lot of people to thank when an event goes smoothly — vendors, technicians, venue managers, hotel staff, volunteers, etc. Once the dust has settled and everyone is back to their regular routines, planners might send a quick email (or go old school with snail mail) to express gratitude to the team that made the event a success.

A brief thank-you note might not seem like a big deal, but according to Heather Murphy’s recent New York Times article “You Should Actually Send That Thank You Note You’ve Been Meaning to Write,” recipients appreciate such notes more than most expect. The article cites a recent study by two psychologists from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Chicago that discovered those who pen thank-you notes seriously underestimate the impact of their message. Additionally, they estimate how insincere the note may read, how much the quality of their writing will be scrutinized, and how uncomfortable compliments make the receiver feel.

After receiving messages of gratitude, the approximately 100 study participants were asked to rate their happiness level on a scale of 1-5. Most said the notes made them feel “ecstatic” with a happiness rating of 4 or 5, even though the thank-you note senders guessed their note would prompt a score of just 3 on the happiness scale. Those who received thank-you notes did not judge the quality of the writing — in fact, many recipients found the letters to be written more competently than the writers expected. The recipients mostly just appreciated the warmth of the note.

What can we learn from this? “People tend to undervalue the positive effect they can have on others for a tiny investment of time,” Murphy reflected. Planners hoping to maintain business connections for future events, take note — and write that note of gratitude you’ve considered sending.

Casey Gale

Casey Gale is associate editor of Convene.