Yesterday I received a letter in the mail that said ‘thank you’ for something I had done. I read it once, then a second time later in the evening, and started to throw it away when I realized I needed to keep it. So I put it with some other letters I had received previously. As I looked at the stack I realized some had been in my possession for over 10 years. The written word has something special about it. I read a statistic one time that said 3% of thank yous were written and over 80% of those notes were still being saved 12 months later.
A staple in any leadership development program is to write a note to someone thanking them for something they did that had real value. A habit for any leader should be to have a stack of cards in their office and write 2 per month. Here is the card I have used for 5+ years and having them ready removes the excuse of I will do it tomorrow when I have something to write on.
I always look at writing a thank you as making a deposit into a trust account. There will be a point in time when I will have to say I am sorry for doing something that hurts a relationship. My mental goal is thank you notes >= sorry statements. If I am sorry > thank you then withdrawals are greater than deposits, and it is a bad trend.
If you control this equation by never saying I am sorry as a leader then you win, but there will be a price to pay.
In my house there is a standing joke that anything Dad has that is older than the kids is special. So far that list includes my marriage, some tools, some sporting equipment, a few t-shirts, underwear, and thank-you notes. I know – too much information. 🙂
Watch yourself this week – How often did you say thank you? How often did you say I am sorry? . . . . and write just one note!