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Posted by Tim Bryce on March 18, 2012

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Just when you have about given up on the younger generation, something happens which restores your faith in them. It’s rare, but it happens. Such was the case recently when I met with a young man, about 28 years of age, who asked my advice on some business related issue. I had never met him before, but he had heard of me and hoped I could answer some questions for him. I arranged a face-to-face meeting where we sat down and discussed what was on his mind. I cannot divulge what we talked about but suffice it to say we got to know one and other and I was able to take care of his problem. To me, he appeared to be a sincere young man who had graduated from High School, survived a tour of Afghanistan with the Army, and was now beginning his professional life. In the course of the conversation we talked candidly and discovered our common interests even though there was a significant difference in our ages. He had started back to college and was working towards a degree in I.T. security. He also realized his education was important as he wanted to start a family soon.

A few days following our meeting I received a package in the mail which included a letter from him thanking me for my time and advice. Also included were a couple of cigars. Evidently, I had said something during the meeting about my passion for cigars and he had remembered it. Needless to say, I was impressed by his thoughtfulness, something you typically do not see anymore.

I told this story to a close friend who told me a similar story. Recently, he had driven his bus for a youth outing from his church. It took a few hours out of his day but he was glad to help. A few days later, he received a very nice thank you card in the mail from the youth group director who appreciated his efforts.

In this day and age of e-mails and instant messaging, my friend and I were genuinely surprised and touched by the gestures of appreciation. It is a sign of good grooming which is why I believe youngsters should get in the habit of learning to write thank you notes at an early age. Unfortunately, not too many do. Maybe this is something that should be taught in elementary school which would help promote penmanship to boot.

Writing a letter and saying “thank you” graciously is becoming a lost art. Even with today’s sophisticated electronic communications, people seem to have trouble expressing their gratitude, thinking it is more of a waste of time than anything else. Have we become so jaded that we cannot express our appreciation for anything? Saying “thank you” is one of the little things in life that make it worthwhile. It is a courtesy that doesn’t go away unnoticed.

Years ago, when I was involved with computer societies, I was often responsible for securing speakers for meetings. I would call them on the telephone to invite them, followed it up with a letter detailing the meeting and checking on their requirements; afterwards, I would send them a note thanking them for speaking at the event. I did this regularly. So much so, I never had a problem securing a speaker, simply because I made sure they knew they were appreciated. I was always mindful of the old idiom, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

This is why I was particularly glad to see thank you notes still around. They may be rare these days, but they certainly haven’t disappeared and are very gratifying.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

5 Responses to “THE ART OF THANK YOU”

  1. Jenn said

    I think taking time out our busy hectic schedules to send a real live snail mail thank you–goes a long way to let the person know that you’ve appreciated them. Sometimes it is just nice to get a hello in the mail too. No the younger generation is not lost–there are some of us parents trying like heck to raise our kids right. (I can only imagine what my parents’ generation said about my generation!)

    Cheers, Jenn.


  2. I’m so glad your wrote this as a reminder to all about the gesture of a hand written thank you note! It is completely personal, with the writer’s unique hand writing style, choice of ink and paper. Not only that, but the receiver appreciates the time the thankful person took to write and mail it.


  3. Ashley Orm said

    Thank you notes aren’t out of style in the younger generation as much as people think they are. I’m in college and I know many of my friends and I keep boxes of thank you cards around because we’re always in need of them. While it may not happen as often as it use to, it hasn’t become a ”dead” art. Nonetheless, it was a very kind gesture for that young man to do and your article is extremely well-written. Thank you for sharing!


    • Tim Bryce said

      Ashley – Thanks for your comments. Good to hear about your use of thank you notes and that they haven’t gone out of style. As I said, it is the little things that count.

      All the Best,
      Tim Bryce


  4. Tim Bryce said

    A J.P. of Toronto, Ontario wrote…

    “Amen to all that! Right on and very true, The civilities and acts of personal appreciation and courtesy are rather like the oil or grease that reduces friction in a machine or engine. Good comment, Tim!”

    An F.V. of Maryland wrote…

    “Both the wife and I volunteer at a homeless shelter monthly and we belong to the VFW. And believe me it’s the ‘Thank You’s’ that make it all worthwhile for sure!”

    A P.M. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    “Well stated, Tim. Bravo!!”

    An H.S. of Las Vegas, Nevada wrote…

    “Heart-warming! In my cultural anthropology class last Friday, we discussed how manners and etiquette seems to be disappearing from our society. I have my little one write thank you notes… hopefully it will stick with him.”

    An S.S. of Boise, Idaho wrote…

    “I wish I knew how to make my grandkids get this….it is so annoying to send them Christmas and birthday gifts and never even get a response! I forwarded your email to my step-kids hoping they would share that with their kids. When I raised my step-kids, they couldn’t spend it, eat it or wear it until the thank you note was written. It may be old fashioned but good manners are timeless. Thank you for your article!”

    A K.E. of Sacramento, California wrote…

    “I agree. Feeling appreciated is what all of us hope to feel.”

    An O.B. of Macon, Georgia wrote…

    “Hi Tim, a timely subject and one that should be addressed at a very young age in the home. And like you, I do see some hope in our younger generation though as you have stated, rarely. One of the problems we face as a society which is and has been the problem with all societies is that there is, (in spite of being politically correct) a class distinction between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Today that is becoming more and more prevalent among the people of the world. Those who have not, are hard pressed to understand why some folks have all they need and want and others suffer from the lack of all they need and want. Yet the solution is truly simple, you pick a place you want to go and head for it. Whether is be wealth or fame, the initiative is the same. You simply want something bad enough to go for it. The skills of manners and usage of language truly mean more than a formal education,

    Somewhere around the early 60s, there was a great push to get a college education. For it meant that with a degree you would not labor as hard to earn a living and there was a greater possibility to earn more then was needed to sustain. In short, a college education meant that you could buy more of what you wanted and did not worry so much about the necessities of life. However along the way, we instilled in most of our children that everyone should go to college and with out college you could only barely survive. What we failed to teach was that the ratio between managers and workers was about 30 to 1. Every body that goes after a college education can not be a leader or manger no matter what grades the achieve. We have enough folks trying to be leaders, but we have very few folks learning to be workers. We need many more workers than we need leaders. And good leader only come about 1 out of every 150 people.

    All this to say, that I believe that we should put the responsibility back on the parents to teach basic work ethic, manners and kindness. But more important to teach the kids to learn to find what they love to do. Folks that learn at an early age to say ‘Thank You’ and mean it are folks that are a joy to work around. Sadly I fear that the ability to teach right living is on the wane. I don’t see many parents today spending the time needed to teach the values that the kids in my generation grew up with. (I am 69). But I do have an edge, kids come to my shop to learn to build model airplanes and through that medium, I can teach much about manners, work ethics and the art of saying please and thank you.”


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