Bob Goldman

I know. These days, we don't have a lot of reasons to be thankful. The employed human is becoming an endangered species. If you do have a job, seeing a bump in your paycheck is about as likely as running into a dodo. (In fact, if you did get hired, you probably have run into a dodo. How better to describe any boss who is dumb enough to hire you?)

But let's not be negative. Let's be "glass is half full" people, even if it takes knocking back a full glass or three of Jagermeister to come to that rosy conclusion. Certainly, the friendly folks at Dale Carnegie are positive. In fact, they sound positively ebullient in their recent electronic billet doux on the subject of "The Lost Art of the Thank You Note."

"Writing a sincere thank you note is one of the professional skills that can make a lasting, favorable impression," the Carnegie crew believes. "People like being appreciated."

This may be true, but how would we know? Appreciation is in short supply in companies today, and to get a decent dollop, you have to do something exceptional, such as entering a burning building to save the boss's beloved bichon. Still, I'm not sure even that act of heroism would put a hand-written thank you note in your inbox. Considering your management, you will probably have to give up vacation days to make up for the time you spend in the burn unit. Which makes me question whether it's worth it to set the fire in the first place.

The trick of writing a successful thank you note is to "give honest, sincere appreciation." This is not easy to do. Personally, I can be honestly insincere, or sincerely dishonest, but that's about as far as it goes. Honestly. Sincerely.

The basic rule for writing a thank you note is to use pen and paper. My question is -- what is this paper stuff, and where do you find it? With most offices hell-bent for going paperless, it would be easier to write the darn thing on papyrus. If your ecologically correct office mates would shun you for using a piece of paper, try writing the thank you on the back of a 20-dollar bill. There might not be a lot of room for ruminations, but, trust me, your appreciation will be appreciated.

Rules include "Greet the Giver." The Carnegie clan prefers a formal greeting, using "Dear" in front of the recipient's name. This is an archaic form, and I suggest a more contemporary, "Hey, Dude," or "Wussup." This will make you appear as a modern, with-it sort of person, which is important, since the entire purpose of sending a thank you note is not to "create an expression of a heartfelt sentiment," as the ivory tower types at Carnegie seem to think, but to impress the recipient so you can get something off them in the future.

Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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