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How To Write A Heartfelt Appreciation Message To A Friend, Colleague, Or Anyone

Lia Miller, M.A., MPA, MSW
Written by Lia Miller, M.A., MPA, MSW
Lia Miller, M.A., MPA, MSW, is a freelance writer, foreign service officer, and clinically trained social worker. She has a master's degree in Public Administration and a master's degree in International Relations, both from Syracuse University, and a third master's degree in Social Work from Columbia University.
How To Write A Heartfelt Thank You Note & Why You Should Do It More Often

Saying thank you when someone has done you a good turn is not a lost art in the 21st century. The words "thank you" are still two of the most powerful words we can use to convey appreciation to another person, and sending an appreciation message remains one of the best ways to truly let someone know you are grateful for what they have done for you.

But sometimes, beyond just the "thank you," it is hard to find the right words to use in an appreciation message. Here's some expert advice on creative ways to send appreciation messages in different situations and for different recipients.

Writing an appreciation message.

An appreciation message can be any expression of gratitude or thanks, from a simple note sent by email to an ornate card with a handwritten letter delivered in the mail. As family strategist and coach Sonya Belleti, LCSW, explains, people often send appreciation messages after receiving a gift, to thank someone for showing up for them (such as to a wedding or funeral), or to help stand out after a job interview.

"An appreciation message is one way to let someone know how much you appreciate them for what they have done for you," licensed clinical social worker and health coach Sarah Brown, LCSW, tells mbg. "It is so important to show appreciation to others, and sometimes giving an appreciation message can go a long way."

Brown notes that appreciation messages can be meaningful to send out to truly anyone who has affected you personally: "Think, hairstylist, child care worker, personal trainer, coach, mentor, etc. They can also be used for colleagues and for your team if you are in a leadership role in a work setting."

The great thing about writing appreciation messages, Belleti adds, is that they benefit the giver as much as the receiver. "When we are writing a true heartfelt appreciation message, we tap into gratitude, which is always great for lifting our spirits as well as the recipient," she explains. "Appreciation messages don't always need to be big gestures to be impactful. Expressing gratitude to someone makes a person feel seen and affirms that their efforts were noticed and appreciated."

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Methods.

"The benefit of living in the digital age is, with only a few keystrokes and the tap of a button, we can immediately reach out to everyone we want to thank," says Belleti. "The method of outreach depends on your relationship with the recipient."

Some options to consider:

  • Text: A simple text message can be a quick, casual, yet meaningful way to show your appreciation to someone. Belleti and Brown both note this method may be more appropriate for personal settings, such as to a friend or acquaintance.
  • Phone call: Telephone calls can be a quick and effective way to thank someone. According to Brown, this is probably most appropriate with a friend or family member. Belleti adds that it can be a nice option for someone you're trying to build a deeper friendship with.
  • Email: Email can be a great way to send a note of thanks in a professional manner or to teachers or any other helping professionals that you want to show some love to, says Brown. Email thank-you notes are also appropriate after an interview, Belleti adds.
  • Card: Cards show you have put some effort and thought into thanking a person, says Brown. Although a small token of thanks, it will still be much appreciated by the receiver.
  • Gifts: Giving a gift can be a way of showing appreciation and, although not showing it with words, can be an act of kindness that can go a long way, according to Brown. Oftentimes for those who do selfless acts, they may need some encouragement to practice self-care. Sending a thank-you message in the form of a gift can be a wonderful way to show your appreciation. "Gift baskets are also wonderful if they are curated to the recipient's likes," Belleti adds.
  • In person: Expressing appreciation for someone in person may be harder for some people, especially if you feel awkward expressing thanks and if the receiver struggles with attention and/or recognition. However, that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be done, according to Brown. In-person appreciation messages can be incorporated in speeches, introductions, and other formal ways in a public setting, and it can also be as intimate as telling someone one-on-one that you appreciate them.

Examples of appreciation messages.

Below, our expert shares examples of great appreciation messages. "The best appreciation messages are personalized," Belleti notes, so make sure to customize your message to the specific person you're writing to and your specific relationship.

Appreciation messages for a friend.

Friends are important people in our lives, so it is important to let them know what they mean to us and to show gratitude and appreciation for the things they do for us. "The key to writing appreciation to friends is to be specific about what you are grateful for," Belleti says.

Some examples:

  • "Thank you for showing up for me. Your presence made my day even more special."
  • "This ___ outfit you gave for my baby is so adorable. I will be sure to send pictures when they wear it."
  • "Thank you for coming over after my _____ passed. It meant a lot to have your support."
  • "Thank you for your kindness and support over the last few weeks. Your friendship means the world to me, and you were such a big part of me moving and growing through this period."
  • "Thank you for being a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on when I have needed it the most."
  • "Thank you for being there for me, making me feel supported and cared for."
  • "Thank you for being my friend!"
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Appreciation messages for a family member.

Many times, and in many cases, we expect and assume our family will do things for us when we need them to and that they will show up for us. Because of this, it is even more important that we show gratitude to them so they don't feel taken for granted.

Some examples:

  • "Thank you for always supporting me even when it is not easy to do."
  • "Thank you for your support and for seeing me through all the many life challenges I have experienced."
  • "Your wisdom, kindness, and strength has carried me through many challenging times. Thank you for always being there."
  • "Thank you for your help with the move. I appreciate the time and help you gave me!"
  • "I wanted to thank you for always being there for me. It means so very much."
  • "To show my appreciation for all of you, I'm going to cook you all dinner for us to eat together!"
  • "I appreciate you always having my back."
  • "The help you gave me was so important. I am lucky to have such a supportive family."

Professional appreciation messages for a boss or colleague. 

Sending appreciation messages to a boss or colleague can be a little tricky because it is important to strike the right tone. However, a well-written appreciation message can go a long way toward building positive relationships with your co-workers. Writing an appreciation message is also an opportunity to give colleagues credit for their contributions and to receive deserved recognition.

Some examples:

  • "Thank you for taking the time to teach me about ____. Your mentorship and support have not gone unnoticed, and I am appreciative of the opportunities presented to learn and grow from you."
  • "Thank you for having my back. It's people like you who make this company a wonderful place to work."
  • "Thank you so much for your help on this project. I couldn't have done it without you."
  • "Thank you for your valuable contributions to the team."
  • "I remain impressed by your ability to inspire everyone on the team to do their best."
  • "Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this project. Your belief in me and my ability to get the job done helped me to give my best."
  • "Through your mentorship, I have learned a lot. You have helped me to learn and apply new skills and knowledge. I appreciate the time you have taken to teach me and develop my potential."
  • "Thank you for helping me reach my personal and professional goals. I enjoy working with you and appreciate the opportunities you have given me."
  • "Thank you for always pushing me to be my best. I am so lucky to have such a great boss."
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Professional appreciation messages to send your team. 

Working as a team is an essential part of the modern-day workplace. Typically, you collaborate intensively with the team, and your success or failure rests on the individual contributions of your team members. Therefore, it is important to recognize the contributions of team members, so they know their work is seen and appreciated.

  • "Thank you for being such a valuable asset to our team/company."
  • "Thank you for stepping up when the team needed you the most."
  • "Hey team, I don't know how we would have gotten through this project without each of you giving it your all. Your commitment to doing good work is an asset to this organization, and I appreciate each and every one of you."
  • "Finishing this project would not have been possible without your hard work and positivity throughout. You truly embody the meaning of teamwork. Thank you!"
  • "Thanks for your hard work, team. Because of your efforts, this company has achieved a new milestone."
  • "I wasn't sure if we would have managed to beat the deadline without each of your efforts. We did it! Thank you for your good work!"
  • "This is a great job. Thank you for all your effort and positive thinking. You have made this organization be recognized."
  • "The mark of an effective team is one that pushes everyone's individual work to another level. Thanks for doing just that and for being a great team!"
  • "Thank you for always being there for each other. You're the best team that I have ever worked with."

Appreciation messages for a teacher.

Teachers are some of the most hardworking and dedicated professionals in the workplace. Unfortunately, they are often one of the most overlooked in terms of receiving recognition and praise for their contributions. Sending an appreciation message or thank you can go a long way toward letting them know you appreciate their work and commitment. When writing an appreciation message for a teacher or educator, Belleti advises, "It is great to share a specific fond memory of highlight of something that was impactful during the school year."

Some examples:

  • "Thank you for inspiring me to be the best version of myself. You are greatly appreciated."
  • "Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone and toward being the best version of myself."
  • "Thank you for sharing your time and talent. Without you, we wouldn't have been what we are today. I can't find the right words to convey our gratitude except to say thank you."
  • "Great teachers are great because they find a way to bring out the best in their students. You are one of the greats, and I wanted you to know that. Thank you for everything."
  • "Most kids need someone to believe in them, someone to offer them hope, and a little help from time to time. You helped us, believed in us, and helped nurture and grow our hope. The world needs teachers like you, and we are so grateful for you. Thank you."
  • "Dear X, your patience with finding a teaching method that worked for me helped me excel in class this year. Thank you for inspiring me and giving me the tools for success."
  • "A truly amazing teacher is a treasure to find, hard to part with, and impossible to forget. The influence of a good teacher lasts a lifetime. I will always remember you and will always be grateful to you."
  • "Thank you for encouraging me when things seemed impossible, mentoring me when I was lost, strengthening my confidence when it felt like no one was there for me. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you and to thank you for being there for me when I needed someone the most."
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Tips to keep in mind:

1. Be specific.

People can tell when they're receiving a routine thank-you note sent simply for social graces, Belleti notes. So, if you're going to send a note, she recommends really focusing on trying to be specific in your message and really gear it toward each individual.

"Whatever the occasion is, be specific, and speak from the heart," she says. "It is important to keep in mind when writing an appreciation message what actions the other person took that you are grateful for and the impact those actions had on you to inspire an appreciation message."

2. Try to send your appreciation message promptly.

"The best timeline to send an appreciation message is within two to four weeks after an event," says Belleti. "However, it is important to remember that appreciation is not limited by time, so a heartfelt thank you sent later is always appreciated."

Brown concurs—in general, it's never too late to say thank you and show appreciation.

3. You don't need to write a novel.

A little goes a long way, says Brown. While she recommends being genuine and speaking from the heart, sometimes a succinct and meaningful note is just as impactful as a long-winded one. The old saying is true, she notes: It's the thought that counts.

4. Validate the recipient.

"In general, an appreciation message is validating to the recipient," says Belleti. "It says, 'I see you, and your actions mattered.'"

The takeaway.

Showing gratitude to someone who has done something for you improves the well-being of not only the recipient but also the sender. Practicing gratitude daily has been proved to have positive psychological, social, and emotional benefits. It helps build thriving and healthy people and societies and improves the quality of one's life.

"When we show appreciation for the small and big things, we are all better for it," says Belleti. "Who doesn't want to know that their actions or words had meaning, and who doesn't want to know they have people who support them? Appreciation opens our heart and is a win-win for everyone involved."

The next time you have a free moment, consider using it to practice gratitude by writing someone special a note of appreciation. You'll probably make their day.

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