The Art of Giving Thanks

 flower-orangeNone of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone’s help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you.

— Harvey Mackay

Harvey Mackay was so right.

“None of us got to where we are alone.”

Learning how to thank people is one of the most important skills you can learn in life.

It’s important to take time after you finish your law school applications to thank the people who helped you through the application process. (Really, any time you achieve a major goal or accomplishment or get through a tough time with someone’s help is a good time to thank them.)

If you’ve already been writing thank you notes, then congratulations, you are a rare bird in this land of forgotten etiquette!

If you haven’t been writing thank you notes or giving thanks in some other significant way, then now is the time to start.

I think one of the simplest and most thoughtful ways you can thank someone is to give them a hand-written thank you card.

First, take a few minutes to write down everyone who has helped you with the law school application process.

Here’s a sample list:

  • Your recommenders
  • Your prelaw adviser
  • Your LSAT instructor and/or tutor
  • Your parents who paid for your LSAT prep course and/or law school application fees
  • Your friends who took you out for late-night happy hour after you crashed and burned from too much LSAT prep
  • Your best friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse for listening to all your hopes, worries, dreams and complaints about law school

Once you have your list, go to the store and buy thank you cards for all of them. In Seattle, I love shopping for thank you cards at Trader Joe’s and Bartell Drugs.

After you have your cards, sit down at your desk and spend some non-rushed time writing thank you notes to all your peeps. Take your time to think through what you want to write and to write legibly.

There is an art and structure to writing a great thank you note. I love how Hallmark describes how to write thank you cards so I copied their tips right from their site and edited their sample phrases to make it more relevant for law school.

1. Start with a greeting.
Don’t forget to make sure you’re using the correct form and spelling of the person’s name, as well as anyone else’s mentioned in the note.

  • Dear Professor Matsuda,
  • Dear Dad,
  • Dear Marcus,

2. Express your thanks.
Begin with the two most important words: Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for…
  • I’m so grateful you were there when…

3. Add specific details.
It shows them that you really appreciate the thought that went into their gift or actions.

  • Your letter of recommendation meant so much to me.
  • I used the birthday money you sent to buy my LSAT prep books.
  • I really appreciated you listening to me whenever I had a panic attack about the upcoming LSAT.

4. Look ahead.
Mention the next time you might see them, or just let them know you’re thinking of them.

  • As I wait for my admissions decisions for law school, I will be thinking of you and all that you did for me.
  • I’ll let you know which law school I decide to attend.
  • We’ll party like it’s 1999 when I send in my law school acceptance!

5. Restate your thanks.
Add details to thank them in a different way.

  • Again, thank you for all your help.
  • I’m grateful that you’re a part of my life.
  • Thank you for always supporting and encouraging me.

6. End with your regards.
“Sincerely” is a safe standby, but for closer relationships, you might choose a warmer option.

  • With love,
  • Love,
  • Many thanks,
  • Warmest regards,
  • Yours truly,

I said it once and I’ll say it again: learning how to thank people is one of the most important skills you can learn in life. Take time now to cultivate the art of giving thanks and you will be amazed at how much it enriches your life, and other people’s lives, for years to come.

Photo Credit: ccmerino via Compfight cc