Think back to the last time you sent out a handwritten thank-you card. In the technologically advanced world we currently live in, this is not a common occurrence. But studies show that the simplest of cards actually have a much more powerful impact on people than we might think. Amit Kumar at the University of Texas at Austin and Nicholas Epley at Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago conducted studies and published their results in Psychological Science, finding that "expressing gratitude might not buy everything, but it may buy more than people seem to expect."
In other words, showing someone gratitude in a simple card can evoke some pretty strong feelings in another person. The study's authors tracked hundreds of participants who were asked to write a thank-you note to someone they felt gratitude toward. They then documented how these individuals felt sending the letters and receiving them as well.
Apparently, the folks who sent the thank-you letters significantly underestimated how positive the recipients would feel after reading the notes. Similarly, they vastly overestimated how uncomfortable their friends or family would feel when they read the letters and how incompetent their thank-you notes would sound. These misguided feelings are exactly what prevent us from engageing in a "powerful act of civility" that could actually be a game changer for a friendship or a relationship.
"If people engageing in prosocial actions are more concerned about competence than those benefiting from them, then our experimental results should be just one example of a broader tendency," the researchers said. So if you're on the fence about writing a thank-you note to someone and you perhaps feel awkward about it, get over your fear and just send it! It will do much more good than you can possibly imagine, and you just might make their day.
If you don't know where to start, consider signing up with a greeting card subscription service like Mendokino, which allows you to send unlimited authentic, heartwarming notes from your phone or computer for just $8 a month. You start by entering your personal handwriting into your phone where it's stored in your account. Later, when you want to choose a card for someone — thank you, congratulations, happy birthday, etc. — you can type out your personal message and Mendokino will write that message in your personal handwriting (in ink!) onto the card and mail it straight to the recipient. That means you never have to go to the store to buy a card or visit a post office again in order to send a special card to someone you love. And judging by this study, this will be worth every penny!