A polite colleague’s dilemma

Dear Arden,

I enjoyed a lovely dinner with a colleague and would like to mail her a handwritten thank you note. Her business card doesn’t list a mailing address; this seems to be the trend with so many business cards in these days of electronic communication. I will email a note but I’m wondering if you have any advice for securing postal addresses to provide a more personal touch with our correspondence.

Signed,

Personally Touched

A colleague sent me this email, and it turns out she was talking about me. I had invited her to dinner and she wanted to thank me for the evening. But, as you can read, I don’t list my mailing address on my business card nor on my website because I don’t want junk mail.

My client correspondence has my mailing address on it, so it seems to work out fine, with the exception of colleagues who want to send me correspondence via snail mail.

You may have been in a similar situation. You want to send a thank you note to a colleague but can’t find her mailing address. Here is the trick for getting around that. It’s not 100% failsafe, but it works most of the time.

Go to the Official White Pages at whitepages.com. There you can put in your colleague’s name and city she lives in. If you have the city right, you will get her address (and much to my dismay, her approximate age) for free. Or, you can do a reverse phone search by putting her phone number in the search box and, voila, up pops her address.

If someone doesn’t have a public listing, this method will not work, unless you want to pay for one of the “sponsored searches”, which I have never done. In this situation, I will try googling the person’s name and see if I can find anything that gives me an idea of where he lives. If that fails, I will email or call my colleague and ask for his mailing address. If you do so, you don’t have to say why you are asking unless asked. I then say something like, “I want to send you something.”

Sometimes it takes a little work to track down an address, but it is worth it because your handwritten note will be much more impactful then an email.

This brings me to another point. This same colleague who sent me the Dear Arden email mentioned at dinner how frustrating it is that people don’t say thank you for the favors or referrals they receive from her. She said she is happy to help others, but is continually surprised by how many people do not express their gratitude, even by email. Others have complained of this to me as well.

Anytime you receive an introduction, referral, gift or other favor of some sort you must thank the person. If you want your colleagues to continue to help you, a thank you is not an option. It is a requirement.

The best way to express your gratitude is with your words of appreciation handwritten on a card and mailed to the gift giver. I guarantee that handwritten-envelope-stamped-mailed card will be much more powerful and longer lasting then a thank you sent by email. That said, an email thank you is better than no thank you.

Let me give you some examples of when I have sent handwritten notes to people.

  • To thank a neighbor for posting my children’s manners class on the mom’s blog of which she is a member.
  • To thank a client for hiring me.
  • To thank a colleague for referring me to a professional organization as a potential speaker for their meeting.
  • To let members of my referral group know how much I appreciate them.
  • To thank a colleague for having me as her guest at a professional organization luncheon.
  • To congratulate a colleague on a major achievement.

Sure it takes a little more time to write a handwritten note, address the envelope and mail it, but it will make you stand out as a gracious, appreciative person who is deserving of people’s help. At the very least, say thank you for these kinds of things by email. There is no excuse for not expressing your gratitude for the favors you’ve received.

Admonishing done. What dilemmas do you have? What is hard for you in writing thank you notes? Are there other ways you like to express your gratitude?

3 thoughts on “A polite colleague’s dilemma

  1. LindaEaves

    Thank you for the great tip on researching addresses. I agree that written correspondence has a lot of impact. I was interviewed for a committee last night, and I sent out a written thank you to the chair instead of a simple email. I enjoyed the experience, and even if I’m not selected it was still a very enjoyable experience.

  2. LindaEaves

    Thank you for the great tip on researching addresses. I agree that written correspondence has a lot of impact. I was interviewed for a committee last night, and I sent out a written thank you to the chair instead of a simple email. I enjoyed the experience, and even if I’m not selected I got a lot out of it.

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