Jeff Snyder has a post up about (Handwritten) Thank You Notes. (note: security recruiter page, in case you’re worried about web filters).
I think part of this is not about sending deserved thanks,* but the sort of human contact that really makes our day. Similar to a random (non-creepy) smile from a stranger to someone who goes just slightly out of their way to hold a door or learn your name if you’re a regular in a store or location. Or better yet, give us a conscious, sincere compliment about something. I think I remember every time someone has complimented me on my car, or whatnot. We’re all people, and it’s natural to react positively and memorably to those who poke us the right way.
The article Jeff links to has 5 business etiquette tips, and I can’t help but notice that they’re of a similar human (humane!) vein. In fact, now that I read to the end of the article, here’s the crux: “Will this make someone feel good?” You know, I actually like that as much as the common geek theme, “Don’t be a dick.” It’s a bit of a positive note rather than the absence of negativity, but also doesn’t use a word I tend not to use (if you know my full name, you know why!).
* And please don’t just send Thank You’s like firing off a form letter. Make them personal and try to actually *feel* it. It’s sort of like never saying “thanks” or “excuse me” as a rote reflex, but always with conscious sincerity. (You can observe this failure in other people when they say thanks when *they* did something for you…)