Thank You Notes and Success

Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to career and life success I discuss in Straight Talk for Success and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Career.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things.  First get to know yourself.  Use this self knowledge to help you better understand others.  Second, build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life.  Third, resolve conflict positively.  Treat conflict as an opportunity to strengthen, not harm, relationships.

Recently, I did a blog post where I featured Jeff Hajek’s book Whaddya Mean I Gotta Be Lean?  I like this book.  And, as I pointed out in the post, Jeff provides some great career advice in a book that at first glance doesn’t seem to have much to do with career success.

Jeff sent me an e mail the day after the post ran, thanking me for my favorable comments about his book.  I thought that was great – and for me it was enough.  However, a couple of days later, I received a handwritten note from Jeff.  It read…

I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to review Whaddya Mean on your blog.  I am cognizant of the fact that you have gone out of your way to help me, so if there is anything I can ever do to return the favor, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Best wishes,

Handwritten notes are not very common these days.  I was touched that Jeff took the time to write one and send it to me.  By sending it, he really strengthened his relationship with me.  The next time he asks for my help, I am very likely to give it to him.  Also, he offered his help to me.  I feel that I can go to him if I need assistance in his area of expertise.  Jeff used a simple technique – a handwritten note – to build his relationship with me.

My post helped Jeff – any exposure helps.  But I reviewed his book because I thought it would be useful to readers of this blog.  My intent was to provide readers of this blog with useful information.  So my review was a win/win/win.  Good for you, good for Jeff, and good for me because I am meeting one of my goals – helping others create the successful life and career that they deserve.  All three of us benefited. 

Jeff purchased a thank you card for his note to me.  That was great, but I have an even better idea.  I have invested in a set of note cards with my name printed at the top and my return address on the back flap of the envelope.  I suggest that you do the same – you’ll find yourself writing more thank you notes when you have a card handy. 

One of the companies where I have done a lot of consulting and coaching work has picked up on this idea.  They have placed blank thank you notes – with one of their core values on the front of the card – at convenient locations in their offices.  Their intent is to get employees to thank one another for good work.  And it worked.  People are sending more of these handwritten notes to their colleagues, strengthening relationships within the company.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are interpersonally competent.  Interpersonally competent people are good at building relationships.  Thanking people when they help you is a great way to build relationships.  Hand written thank you notes are the best way of doing so.  Hand written thank you notes establish you as someone who cares about other people and is willing to go a little out of your way to build relationships.  They are the hallmark of interpersonally competent people.

That’s my take on thank you notes and interpersonal competence.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on this topic with us.  As always, you have my deepest gratitude for taking time out of your day to read what I’ve written.


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