It's not really surprising that most of us aren't ritual thank-you-note senders. When we were kids, the habit tended to be forced on us, sans explanation save for the vague reasoning that it was 'the right thing to do'. Naturally, many of us dropped that habit when we no longer had someone making sure we followed through.

Research supports that we need to pick this back up, ASAP. 

That study, published by Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley, convincingly demonstrates that the people tend to underestimate, on many levels, the positive value of a simple note of gratitude. 

It really ought to be a no-brainer.

Have you ever received a thank-you letter? Feels good, right? 

Stands to reason, then, that being on the sending end can give us a significant boost in the minds of the people we express our thanks to. 

And those people would be:

  • mentors
  • clients
  • colleagues
  • employers
  • employees
  • anyone who interviews you for a job, just for starters. 

Really, anyone who does something that you feel grateful for--even a stranger who inspires you. 

And look, we don't have to pretend that it's a totally unselfish act. 

Not only are there many proven benefits to expressing gratitude, but there's also what might happen. 

You might get special consideration for that upcoming management opening. You might win over a client who was on the fence about taking their business somewhere else. You might become the child your parents are most proud of (sorry, Eleni & Anna). 

Just kidding about that last one. But seriously, people appreciate (more than we think they do, apparently) the time and effort put into a thank-you letter

Of course it needs to be genuine. A postcard with "Thank You" printed on the back and your signature isn't going to cut it. 

Take the time to say what you feel. 

If you don't feel truly thankful, why write the letter? And if you're writing the letter, why not go ahead and express how you feel? 

Sometimes we're afraid we aren't good enough at explaining our gratitude, or that it will come off awkwardly. According to the data from Kumar and Epley's experiments, though, the opposite is actually true. 

So don't be afraid. Worst case scenario, a particularly cynical recipient of your gratitude may think of you as quaint or eccentric. 

Really, though, in a world where standing out is seemingly the only way to get ahead, would that be such a bad thing?