As a leader, being grateful should be considered a key component in your leadership skill set. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked. When utilized properly, gratitude has many benefits and works to increase your influence. We should use this with co-workers, family, friends and anyone we care about. But it’s not simple. There is a specific way to say “thank you”.
FIRST – Why say thanks?
1. Thanking people for their effort is the right thing to do. – Let’s face it, there are times when people do some pretty amazing things for us and we barely acknowledge it. Take the time to say “thank you” and show some respect. This leads to the second point.
2. You will earn people’s respect. – True respect is earned. The best way to get respect is to give it.
3. People will appreciate it. – Everyone’s life encompasses so many variables, that completing a project for your team may take a great effort. It really demotivates people if you don’t notice their work. If you want this person to continue performing at a high level, you need to find a way to say “thank you”.
4. Encourages the behavior you want to see repeated. – People like being thanked. Whatever you show gratitude for is something they will likely repeat, so you can thank them again. This is especially effective when looking to change behavior. Better to say “thanks” for the good stuff, then to berate them for the bad.
5. It’ll make you feel good. – Funny how this works. When you treat others with respect and show gratitude for them, you feel good about it. It’s ok to make yourself feel good. When you’re down about something, it’s good to get outside your head and focus on someone else in a positive way.
NOW – How to say thank you.
1. Know who your thanking. – Understanding your audience determines how a “thank you” is received. Some people are uncomfortable with public displays of gratitude. For others, it can be the fuel that drives them to great performances in the future.
2. Should it be personal or public? – It depends on many factors. Who your dealing with, the effort, the setting, etc. Don’t make a spectacle of showing gratitude towards others. This will have the opposite effect. To the casual observer, it will seem like you are doing this to pump yourself up.
3. Be specific. – One of the most important parts of this is letting them know exactly why you value them and their effort. Saying “thanks for all you do” is basically lazy and requires no thought. But diving in and being specific promotes the sincerity of your “thanks”.
4. Timing. – Don’t dilute the meaning. Don’t say “thank you” so much that it loses effectiveness. Eventually, no one will care that you are saying thanks and your gratitude becomes insincere and meaningless. Use “thanks” wisely.
5. Use different means. – The “thanks” should match the effort. Otherwise it won’t be taken seriously. Utilizing small “thank you” post it notes can be effective for small things. Write them a personal letter for long term efforts. Maybe take someone out to lunch or surprise them with ice cream or coffee. Get creative! At times, a huge show with all the pageantry is necessary.
The most important part of this is to make sure you do it! If you are unsure how to do this, involve others in the decision. It’s too important to mess up. At Christmas and New Years, people often reflect on the previous year and prepare for the next one. Make sure part of your reflection includes saying thank you to all the special people that allow you to do what you do. It won’t be hard, they’re all around you.