Whenever someone says those two words to me, a little tingle of satisfaction courses through me. I feel that I have made a difference. At the end of the day, that we what we are all brought into this life to do, in our own little ways.
The Brits are well known for their almost regimented politeness, but I believe that you can never say “thank you” too often. A truly sincere “thank you” isn’t said to satisfy convention or to please someone, it is an acknowledgment of someone’s choice to help you in some way. They have touched your life, and you would like to let them know that – in simple language, but with the deepest feeling.
Most of us want to do good in this life, to leave our legacy and make an impression on the world. This is not only about the 10km runs for Cancer Research or the donations of clothes to the charity store. The biggest impacts of kindness are the everyday types – letting the old lady to the front of the supermarket queue, buying the homeless guy a coffee or simply opening the door for a mum with a pram. Nearly every time you will see a warm smile and hear those two words.
Outside of the office, our social niceties are pretty well honed. However, as soon as we step into our work persona, something inside us changes slightly. Somehow we feel that little bit more entitled – why should I say thank you to the mail guy every morning, it is his job, after all? We somehow want to save our “thank you” for those big gestures, those truly heroic acts….
This is far from the case for everyone, but I think that it is common enough, and it is a real shame. Lots of people are doing lots of things for you and others in your work environment every day. Many of them will feel part of the “rat race”, working to live, underappreciated and underpaid. Many of them might go a whole day without hearing any words of genuine appreciation. Without hearing those two simple words on a regular basis, feelings of worthlessness are not so far away.
Everyone talks about elaborate strategies for retention of employees, how best to motivate and engage them. In my view, fostering a culture of gratitude would go a long way to achieving this. It doesn’t cost anyone anything to give a warm smile and let them know that they have made a difference, however small. It doesn’t mean that you are soft, and it doesn’t diminish your authority. If anything, it shows that you care about people and want to connect with them.
When someone says thank you to me, it gives me a buzz. It energizes my day, and I almost feel like saying thank you to them for saying thank you to me.
Want to make other people feel like that? Give it a try.
Written by: Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury