Handwritten thank you letters are a thing of the past – due to instant messaging

The traditional handwritten “thank you” letter is no longer the most popular way to express gratitude – with digital methods such as instant messages and emails favoured instead, according to research.

A poll of 2,000 adults found just 9% send a letter of thanks nowadays – a drop of 11% compared to 10 years ago.

Instead, messages via WhatsApp, SMS text, email, and Facebook have become some of the most common ways to show appreciation.

Despite this, handwritten notes of gratitude are in fact still considered to be among the most meaningful ways to say thank you – close behind heartfelt phone calls, and visiting someone to show appreciation in-person.

Further highlighting the significance of the personal touch, the M&S Club Rewards research found hand-delivering flowers or treating someone to a coffee were also among the most genuine ways to show thanks.

The research also found that 58% think it is more important than ever to say thank you to loved ones – with 28% admitting the last couple of years have helped them appreciate the little things.

And 29% think it’s important to show others just how much they mean to them – so they realise how loved they are.

However, three in ten don’t tend to say thank you in a meaningful way as often as they would like.

Etiquette expert, William Hanson, said: “Gratitude will never fall out of fashion, and while how we say thank you may have changed, simple good manners are timeless and priceless, and saying thank you has never been easier.

“However, in our digital age – and with all these new and simple ways to communicate and show our gratitude – saying a quick thank you via instant message has become the default for many.

“But if you really want to share a meaningful thank you, giving someone your time or adding an element of a personal or more human touch will go a long way, and have a much bigger impact.”

The study also found the average adult says thank you to loved ones seven times a week – with one in ten expressing their gratitude 21 times or more over a seven-day period.

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Seven in ten also feel a meaningful “thank you” can be very powerful – with those polled feeling “appreciated” (46%), “happy” (38%), and “positive” (31%) after receiving one.

More than a third (35%) have also used loyalty points earnt through reward schemes to share treats with others – as a way of thanking them.

Almost four in ten (38%) do this because they like having small treats to look forward to throughout the year which they can enjoy with friends and family.

And 43% like to thank others in this way because it makes both loved ones and themselves feel good.

Paul Stokes, from M&S Club Rewards, said: “Our research shows that while the art of saying thank you may have evolved over the years, the importance of showing our gratitude has never been higher.

“Over the last few years, we have had to come together and support each other perhaps more than ever – so it’s great to see that, as a nation, so many of us are taking the time to share a thank you.

“While some of the more traditional ways of saying thank you are still around today, our research found that people are showing their thanks in many different ways.

“Using loyalty points and rewards vouchers earnt throughout the year is a great way to show your gratitude and treat others.”

TOP 20 MOST POPULAR WAYS TO SAY THANK YOU:

  1. A phone call
  2. WhatsApp message
  3. SMS text message
  4. Email
  5. Facebook message
  6. A hug
  7. A visit to somebody's home to say thank you in person
  8. Handwritten letter
  9. Hand delivering flowers
  10. A small gift
  11. Arranging for flowers to be delivered
  12. With chocolates
  13. Treating someone to a coffee
  14. Taking someone out for a meal
  15. A FaceTime call
  16. Offering someone help in the future/offer of support
  17. With cake
  18. E-card
  19. Instagram message
  20. Video message

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