Q. This upcoming week is my last week at my current job. I was given lovely little gifts and notes by the teens with whom I currently work, and I have written thank-you cards. I am wondering, do I use my home address as the return address, or should I use my employer (a public institution) as the return address. I am using personal thank-you cards and my own stamps. - J.M., MINEOLA, N.Y.
A. First, with all the talk of incivility and rudeness, especially about teens, I revel in your story: teens writing thank-you notes and giving small gifts showing their appreciation for what you have done for them. For all the good things teens — and people of all ages — do for each other, what we usually hear about is the one story of rudeness, which, like a bad apple, spoils all the good ones that are out there.
Your choice to send a thank-you note to each teen is admirable. Receiving a thank-you note from you is a great object lesson for them.
In your situation I would recommend using your current business address as the return address. Assuming you have used the correct addresses for your recipients, the return address is nothing more than a formality. In addition, even though these notes are from you personally, you are sending them from your business as part of your job. Therefore, it is appropriate that they come from your place of business, even if you will only be there for a short while more. Finally, many people prefer not to share or mix their business and personal lives.
The thank-you note is really an easy and effective way to connect with people and make a positive impression. It can be short — three to five sentences. Write it right away; the next day is perfect. Stick to the point: Comment about the person, the event, or the gift; offer an expression of thanks; and suggest any follow-up you plan to do.
Best of all, as you have done, hand write it on a note card and put it in the mail. If you e-mail it instead, once it’s received and read, it’s deleted. A note in the mail remains on the counter or desk or refrigerator where it reminds the recipient about you for days or even weeks.
E-mail questions about business etiquette to firstname.lastname@example.org.