How to say “Thank You”

by Kate on September 30, 2012

“Thank you!” Two small words that can make a world of difference. Do you use them enough, and when you say the words do you mean them?

The other day, I had a Twitter chat with Deb Evans, which got me thinking about the trouble we have with Thank You.  Deb commented that a Thank You goes a long way, so it’s surprising we don’t hear more of them.

Saying thank you is such a simple and easy way to remind ourselves and others what we appreciate.  So why don’t we do it?

Part of the problem is we’re lousy at delivering the message. In fact, I’m sure that in many cases if we use the words we don’t really think about them.

But Thank You said with true appreciation is a powerful way to communicate to someone we have noticed something they have done or their help. People want to be valued and appreciated and a Thank You helps with that. All sorts of good things can flow from it, now the recipient knows they are valued. Plus, genuinely thanking someone will make you feel good.

Unfortunately, many people seem to struggle with being thanked. Somehow they can’t accept the acknowledgement or be gracious about it. So a heartfelt Thank You is barely heard and dismissed leaving the thanker feeling like they gave a gift that wasn’t appreciated.

So how can we go about giving and receiving thanks more graciously?

  1. Stop and think for a moment, now, about the things you are thankful for, and the people you appreciate. There are probably quite a few things. A good place to start is at close to home (a roof over your head, food, clean water, healthcare, the ability to earn an income …).
  2. Be intentional about looking for the things others do which you appreciate. Then take time to let them know about it. Call them, mention it when you see them and be clear what you are thanking them for.
  3. Send Thank You notes in the mail. I know, we don’t really ‘do’ mail anymore, but it does put a smile on people’s faces.
  4. Learn how to write a meaningful Thank You email, or Facebook message, or even a Tweet. Something more than a smiley face. You’d be surprised how good that makes you feel.
  5. In business, acknowledge people for what they have done. For example, with a team member of the month award, or other recognition. As a leader, set an example of what good looks like by being clear about the thanks and acknowledgement.
  6. If you are the recipient of a Thank You, be gracious and take on board the thanks. It’s not nothing, even if you might think it is. Put aside your reluctance to hear the words and experience the appreciation, just for a second. Then say something gracious in response, like “You’re welcome! thank you for noticing, I appreciate that”.
Saying Thank You makes a difference to how we experience the world and the people in our lives. It helps our days go better. I hope you’ll give it a go.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kate Groom September 30, 2012 at 10:45 am

And “Thank You”, Deb, for sharing those stories. The business one is a tricky one and it’s so easy to feel wounded when we feel ignored or taken for granted. Relationships are things we all need to work on all the time, surfacing these things, and deepening our understanding of each other. AND so great to hear how much that sales clerk appreciated your thanks. I think know the ‘right’ way to be is to keep on with doing right, even when it seems no one notices.

2 Deb Evans September 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

First, thank you for noticing my tweet last week. I don’t often vent publicly but I was surprised by the lack of gratitude from a colleague. I will admit that not only was I surprised but a little hurt. Emotions are a funny thing. Later that day, I went out of my way to express my appreciation for the excellent customer service I always receive from the local Seafood department sales clerk, Barbara. I told her personally but then I spoke to her manager. He said that too often he hears complaints (not about Barbara) that it made his day to have a customer take the time to share a positive experience. When I returned to the store a day later, Barbara called out to me and thanked me for speaking to her manager. How she knew it was me, I don’t know but I could tell that it meant a great deal to her.

As you point out, thank you does make a difference and I will work harder expressing it!

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