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How to thank colleagues, mentors

Jessica L. Mendes,

Sending a thank you note after a job interview is standard practice. In other professional situations, expressing gratitude is less clear.

Expressing your thanks through a handwritten note or thoughtful email is an excellent way to nurture positive working relationships and solidify your professional network. Keep in mind that a thank you letter is the most formal option and should be formatted like any business letter.

A thank you note or email can range from slightly less formal to casual, depending on the tone of your writing. When choosing how formal or informal to make your note, consider your relationship with the recipient as well as their professional role.

Here are a few common circumstances when writing a thank you is appropriate, along with samples to get you started.

Appreciate a colleague

Once in awhile, a co-worker goes beyond the call of duty. For instance, a team member might work 16-hour days in the weeks leading up to a product launch. Or he may work from home over the weekend to finalize a report ahead of Monday’s big meeting. A thank you note will go a long way to making those extra-hard workers feel appreciated for their efforts.

“Thank you for putting in all those extra hours to help the team prepare for the trade show. You should know that your hard work didn’t go unnoticed. Everything looks great, and I’m confident this event will be a success. We’re lucky to have you.”

Recognize acts of kindness

Acknowledging when a colleague does something nice for you makes the workplace a more pleasant environment — and it encourages future acts of kindness.

“Thank you for backing up my proposal during Thursday’s team meeting. The CEO emailed me with the go ahead, and I believe your support was instrumental in gaining his approval. I look forward to working on this project with you and the team.”

Acknowledge a gift

When someone gives you a gift, writing a sincere thank you note is just polite, whether it is a professional or personal relationship.

“Thank you for the Fair Trade coffee that you gave me for Employee Appreciation Day. That blend is delicious and I’m sure the caffeine boost will be a lifesaver on the long days ahead working on the year-end reports.”

After a business meeting

A written thank you is appropriate for all sorts of business meetings, such as a strategy meeting with potential partners or a lunch meeting with a mentor.

“Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me over lunch. Your unique perspectives and insights are helping me figure out the next steps on my career path. I am so grateful to have you as a mentor and role model.”

For references

Sending a handwritten thank you to the person or people who serve as your professional references is a kind way to demonstrate your appreciation and show that you have not forgotten them, even though you’ve moved on.

“Thank you for writing a letter of reference on my behalf. My new boss said your favorable words and detailed letter spurred them to interview me in the first place. I enjoyed working with you, and I’m sure I’ll use the knowledge and experience you gave me as I go through my career. Thanks again for your support.”

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