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Coaches Corner: Power in the Pen

If there is one thing I learned from my Dad, it is always to write a personal thank you note to those who gave you a gift or someone who has done something kind or extraordinary for you. He always told me that a verbal thank you is never enough. I will always embrace that lesson. It has served me well.

I was flying in a leadership position on my last London trip and had arrived about 5 hours before my crew briefing. I took a short nap, then sat down in the crew lounge to start writing thank you notes to my First Class passengers. All but one couple were Medallion members in that cabin, so I decided to write them a thank you note as well to wish them a wonderful journey.

As I was writing my notes, another flight attendant stopped by and asked what I was doing. I told her I was writing thank you notes to my first class passengers, thanking them for their continued loyalty and business. She said, “may I see what you write?” I said, “sure, but they are all a little different as I feel it is important to personalize each one. Writing a simple note of thanks to my passengers adds value and shows a genuine appreciation for their loyalty.

When most of my passengers see that I have left them a thank you note (at their seat) thanking them for their loyalty, they thank me. Those thank you notes have sparked some fascinating conversations. The recipient feels valued and appreciated.

Writing thank you notes has become a lost art in recent years. Perhaps it is because of the digital world that we live in. According to recent research, some 75 percent of Americans believe thank you notes are antiquated and obsolete. That is a staggering thought to me.

My granddaughter had a birthday party in the early part of summer. The following weekend we had a sleepover at our home, and during our time, I grabbed some thank you notes (from my stash), and we sat down at the table to write thank you cards for her birthday gifts. And you know what? She loved writing them. I wrote a sample, and she copied it in her six-year-old handwriting. It is a skill we can teach at a very young age as we teach them gratitude and appreciation for the gifts they receive. Feeling grateful for a gift should never be outdated. You are showing appreciation and gratitude with a handwritten thank you note.

Researchers have proved that writing thank you notes is a positive thing. A study by two University of Chicago business professors, published last year in Psychological Science, found that people routinely underestimate the positive impact of expressing gratitude.

So how do we as a society revive the lost art of writing thank you’s?

I believe it starts in the home. You are teaching your young children to be grateful for a gift they have received by spending a few minutes with them writing a thank you.

If somebody did something for you unexpectedly, or you attended a fabulous event, write a note of gratitude.

You’ll stand out…People will still say, “don’t send me a note” do it anyways. The recipient will be thrilled.

Buying stationary is so fun. I love finding different and unique cards. I have seen some of the best stationery in local shops.

Write a thank you note to mark a significant life event. I recently hosted a large family gathering, and after the event, I wrote thank you notes to my family, thanking them for coming.

Writing thank you notes can be a savvy business tool. People who get thank you notes are pretty keen about people who send thank you notes.

Princess Diana was known as a meticulous writer of thank you notes. Her biographers say she sat down immediately after a dinner party to write her notes, even before she went to bed.

Late President George H. W. Bush was also a master of writing thank you’s. He built bridges around the world with his notes.

But most importantly, you will feel better about yourself. Showing your gratitude and appreciation brings a whole new perspective to your life.

“The power of the pen is not in the color of ink it spills, but the power of the word it spells” -Neha.

To connect with Ellie @coachelliewest “Soar” How to rise above the turbulence and watch your dreams take flight by Ellie West will launch on Amazon on Sept. 23rd.