Gratitude might seem like a soft or even an obvious subject to you. Perhaps you would rather read about a leadership lesson or a marketing approach or even a motivational technique. If that is what you are thinking, I urge you to read on. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
From the time we are little kids we are taught to say “Thank You.” It is one of the first things we learn. We are taught to say thank you because our parents know that showing that simple appreciation is polite behavior and because it is the right thing to do. This lesson is one of the most valuable we learn from our parents one that we should definitely be thankful for.
There are many ways that we can and should show our gratitude as adults in a business or professional setting. I will share several of them with you, and they will be very valuable to you if they are used with the right spirit and attitude. Approach them from an authentic attitude and you will reap more than you sow. Consider them as techniques or ploys and you risk being seen as insincere or manipulative.
Given that caveat, here are some tangible ways to show your gratitude to others in a business or professional setting.
• Say “Thank You.” Simple as that. When people do things for you or that you appreciate, say “thanks.” In person or on the phone, always say it when you can. A simple “thank you” is great, but it will be even more valuable if you are specific as to why you are so thankful.
• Type “Thank You.” Drop someone a quick e-mail. If you can’t tell someone in person, sending a quick note of thanks is very powerful. Have you ever kept an e-mail of thanks, reading it over again? I’ll bet you have. This shows why some written proof is so valuable. It is permanent.
• Write “Thank You.” I have a file in the drawer beside my desk that has all sorts of notes and kind words I have received from people over the last 20 years. I seldom add something to this file without pulling something else out to relive a kind word written to me. You’ve heard it a million times handwritten thank you notes are powerful. They are. Take the time to write people a note. Whether they work in the next cubicle, down the hall, or across the country, write out your thanks.
• Share a token. Across the country in the next few weeks, lots of business gifts will be given. You will receive holiday fruit, coffee mugs, wine and countless other gifts. All are sent to wish you happy holidays and to thank you for your business or your relationship. These are meant to be gifts of gratitude. Think back on the holiday gifts you have received in the past from professional relationships. Which (if any) are memorable? My guess is that those that felt personally selected, or that were especially relevant to your interests, or the relationship with the other person or business have meant the most. Sharing gifts is a great way to show your gratitude, but will be most effective if done with thought, not but adding another name to the database to receive the flower arrangement.
I know that nothing I have said above is new or earth shattering. It is all common sense. Why do I share it then? I share it with you for several reasons, all of them equally important.
• Common sense isn’t always common practice.
• We all need to be reminded.
• The attitude is as important as the action.
Giving and Receiving
The most wonderful part of giving the gift of gratitude isn’t that giving is the polite thing to do, though it is. It isn’t that it is the right thing to do, though it is. It isn’t even because of how good and important it makes others feel, though it does. The most wonderful part is that when we give the gift of gratitude, with the right spirit, genuinely from our heart, we get as much or more in return for giving the thanks as the receiver gets from receiving it.
The Final Paradox
If you were looking for a leadership lesson, I hope you found it. Great leaders show their gratitude freely and genuinely. If you wanted to learn something about marketing it is here be gracious. Good marketers know that saying thank and meaning it is good business. If you wanted a motivational idea, giving thanks can be a powerful motivator to both the giver and receiver.
Be thoughtful in your thankfulness, gracious in your giving, and plentiful in your praise of others. Make showing your heart a new habit you begin cultivating, in your organization, you’re your community, in your home today.
Thank you so much for reading.
Kevin Eikenberry is Chief Potential Officer of a learning consulting company that helps clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services.