Thank People Personally. Never miss opportunities to strengthen relationships Think back to when you were dating. Or if you’re dating now, this will be easy for you. How would you like to receive a note from the person you’re dating that says, “Hello friend. If we dated recently, thank you. I appreciate your time. Our relationship is important to me. Best wishes.” Could you imagine?! Wait, it gets better! The note is not addressed to you alone, but rather to ten people, and it has a photocopied signature at the bottom! Think this is far-fetched. It’s not. People do this all the time.
When you “go generic” with your messages to your customers, colleagues, and friends, you’re sending the same type of message: I don’t really care that much about you.
NULL Whether you intend to or not, this is the message you send. I recently sent a birthday note to a former colleague from a company for which we both had worked. My note was personal, it acknowledged what he was currently doing, and it asked him to tell me more about a recent success. Two weeks later I received a “Dear Friend” form email from my colleague thanking anyone and everyone who had wished him a happy birthday. Three months ago Dawn and I went to a birthday party for a classmate of our four-year old little girl, Eliana. We brought a nice gift, just like most of the other parents. As we left the party we were a given a party favor with a note that said, “Thanks for any gift you brought today.” Two weeks ago I helped someone at a conference where I spoke. Two days ago I received a form letter addressed to ten people saying, “Thanks for the help you gave to me at the conference. I appreciate it. Sorry for the mass email.” What do these three examples have in common? First, there’s nothing wrong with this “generic” approach to expressing gratitude. The individuals in each example realized that something good was done for them. This is important. Many people miss this first step. Second, they chose to acknowledge the individuals who helped them. They simply chose to “go generic.” So, what’s the problem?
Each individual missed an opportunity to strengthen a relationship.
Here’s what generic messages communicate, “Thanks for your contribution to my life, but I’m too busy to let you know personally what you did, why it is important, how it benefited me, and why I value our relationship.” Generic responses are as personal as an automatic email from a company that says, “Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, we will not be able to respond to your email personally. We are focused on other priorities that demand our attention.” Now there is something “wrong” in the approach each individual followed in the three examples above. First, the assumption that each of them “saved” time by sending a generic message is wrong. It takes just a few extra minutes to send personal notes versus going “generic” en masse. If you don’t believe me, time it next time. Send me an email if I’m not right. Second, experts in personal relationships, leadership, and professional networking will tell you that your minimal investment of time in providing specific, timely, and personal feedback will pay great dividends to your relationships now and in the future.