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Saying ‘Thank You’: Taking It Back to the Basics

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard, “Now, what do you say,” after receiving a gift or kind gesture. We were schooled to be respectful from the time we were toddlers. We said, “thank you,” sometimes because Mom said so, but mostly because it showed gratitude. And it’s the right thing to do.

The age-old saying of “Treat others as you would want to be treated” holds true. However, somewhere along the way, we’ve adopted a different kind of behavior, especially in business. It’s time we go back to the basics.

Give thanks

A business’ most appreciable asset is its employees. In order to sustain success, you need them, so treat them right. Perks alone won’t do the trick. Sometimes a simple “thank you” or sign of appreciation will go a long way.

It sounds simple, but businesses seem to have challenges showing employees appreciation, and it cannot be forced; appreciation should be authentic and deserved. Otherwise, it’s worthless.

The good news is Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so it’s an opportune time to refine your delivery. Here are a few tactics you can start implementing today:

  • Deliver a “thank you” in person. While an email may be easier, it can come across as insincere. Thanking someone in person enhances your presentation. Whenever you have a chance to positively impact someone’s day, do it … in person.
  • Write a note. A handwritten note is powerful because it’s personal and unexpected. You appreciate what someone did for you and that’s why you want to show your thanks, so make it special and put in the extra effort to write them a note.
  • Replace “but” with “and.” When corrective action is necessary, avoid criticizing the offender; instead, start the conversation with a positive spin. This isn’t a revelation; it’s something employers have tried to master for some time. However, where they go wrong is by using the word “but.” For instance, “Sarah, your report was good, but I’d like to see…”The word “but” completely negates any compliment that preceded it. Instead try it like this, “Sarah, your report was good, and I’d like to see…” Using “and” in place of “but” will help to ensure the positive feeling sticks around.

A trend that should start with leaders

Showing appreciation is a skill business leaders should exercise more often. Plenty of articles exist on employee engagement, yet over half of the workforce remains disenchanted. Flashy incentives garner an uptick in engagement at first, but it’s the sincerity of business leaders and the effort to do the right thing that will outmatch any perk.

Encourage leaders to practice positive talk. Host sessions on appreciation best practices and ensure leaders are following through. If you want to bring positivity to work, start at the top and allow the behavior to saturate the rest of the organization.