Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Power of Thank You

If you grew up with parents who loved you, they probably taught you to say "Please" and "Thank You," the first steps towards civilized human relations. Whenever I notice kids using these words, I always conclude good things about their upbringing and future potential.

These simple fundamentals of decorum apply to adults, too, although I know plenty of adults who rarely use them.

Too often in the past, I've neglected to say Please, Thank you, and You're welcome. Usually in a rush, I assumed that people knew how I felt and that my saying so was unnecessary.

But this is something I need to do better. When I say "Thank you," people know that what they did for me was noticed and that I appreciate their efforts on my behalf.

This is important even for the small things.

Without my thanks, people are left in the dark about whether what they did helped me and whether they should help me again sometime.

And when people express their thanks, it's customary to reply, "You're welcome."

This is useful because now the beneficiary knows that the helpful act was done with a willing heart - not begrudgingly. Important information.

Please, thank you, and your're welcome - simple, commonplace words that nurture relationships.

One of my favorite books is Marshall Goldsmith's classic, What Got You Here Won't Get You There (2007). It's a book for people who want to be more successful. It's full of plain-spoken advice about the small things that can have a huge impact. In it he devotes a whole chapter to thanking people.

He says, "When someone does something nice for you, they expect gratitude - and they think less of you for withholding it."

Once he was on a flight that was having trouble with the landing gear. He says that when he realized that he could die within a few minutes, he began to regret that he hadn't adequately thanked many of the people who had helped him in his life. He vowed that if his plane landed safely, he would find all these people and thank them properly.

And he did.

He says that thanking people can become a polished skill, and he encourages people to get good at it. "If you can get an A+ in gratitude, nothing bad will ever come of it. Only good."

Gratitude is a behavior pattern. Be honest with yourself. Have you been doing enough to thank the people who have helped you - even the little things? If not, now is the ideal time to ingrain the habit.

More about gratitude: "The Best Compliments in the World"

From Meredith Bell: "Creative Ways to Say Thank You"

Life wisdom from Marshall Goldsmith: "The Best Advice for Your Life"

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2013. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Denny. The seemingly simple "please, thank you, your welcome" artfully and consistently applied is one of the dividers I use to put folks into a category of "exceptional." It's a rather small group, as you note. I find that these exceptional folks also tend to be unusually good listeners. And they notice things that many others miss.