Guilt and the Thank You Note


Nothing makes my day more than writing a blog post about a real-life etiquette situation because it means that it’s REAL. I love  keeping it real with our interactions. None of this fancy-smancy, pinkie in the air stuff for this girl! It’s why I named my business Etiquette for EVERY day.

I was in a conversation with a group at my church. We were discussing guilt and how guilt is part of a vicious cycle that often prevents action.

You don’t do or say something. Then feel guilty about not doing it, which leads to more not doing, which leads to more guilt. Pretty soon you are feeling SO terrible and guilty that you can’t even face that person or situation again.

The analogy that was made by a group member was that of a thank-you note. You get a wonderful gift or someone does something very nice for you. You know you need to write a thank you note, but think , I’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow turns into the next week and the next week turns into a couple of weeks, then a month. At some point, you are so embarrassed and feeling so guilty and decide you can’t possibly send a thank you note because the moment has passed. You also decide it would be easier to completely avoid the nice person or skirt around REAL conversation with them because you feel guilty.

When you are the recipient of an act of kindness, a thank you note should be sent within a few days or the week. However, my thought is that it is never too late for a thank you note. If you have been negligent in your thank you’s, don’t feel guilty. Turn your guilt into action and write that note, humbly apologizing for the delay without making excuses (no one likes to hear excuses and it diminishes the importance of the kind gesture.) Ideally, you should follow my Pastor’s grandmother’s advice: A thank you note should always be warm. So true. So true.

I’ve been in plenty of conversations with others, sharing my own experiences, where gift givers or sunshine-spreaders are frustrated with the lack of acknowledgement when they give a gift or do something nice. Although you never do or give for the thanks, it is nice when it is acknowledged. For me, it doesn’t matter if it is a phone call, text, e-mail or hand-written note. Failure to acknowledge a gift is a BIG HUGE no-no. Seriously. Especially when it happens regularly. In the conversations that I’ve been a part of, there’s agreement: the desire to continue doing nice things for individuals who don’t offer some form of a simple ‘thank you‘ is GREATLY diminished . Even extinguished.

An attitude of gratitude feels waaaaay better than embarrassment and guilt!

Mind Your Manners and Say Thanks,



  1. You are so right, Kelly. I’ve seen this with grief occasions. The friend means to send a card or acknowledgement, but they forget. Days pass. Then weeks. Then, they are so miserable they didn’t send it sooner, they still don’t. My advice: send one. Send it if it’s been a week, send it if it’s been 2 months. The grieving grieve for a long time and will usually be thankful for acknowledgement far into the future.

    • Kelly

      Danielle, thank you for making this important connection with expressing condolences and reminding all of us. A person who is grieving needs love, thoughts and prayers much past their initial loss.

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