“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher
When people called the office of attorney Robert Kaner to express their condolences for his passing away, they had good intentions. But the Minnesota attorney, Robert M. Kaner had to explain that he was still alive. It was Robert L. Kaner who had died.
Nonetheless, Robert M. ran an ad in the local paper expressing his gratitude for all those who reached out to him. And his ad went on to offer condolences to the family of Robert L.
The good news in all of that is that a lot of people understood the importance of gratitude and actually did something about it. And that’s great. As a so-called “motivational speaker,” I know that gratitude is one of the most motivating factors in the world. It’s good for employee engagement, good for stronger relationships with your customers and good for building the bonds in your family.
But there’s one catch. It’s not good enough to be thankful or feel grateful. You’ve got to EXPRESS it to the other person. You can’t expect them to read your mind. The days of bosses thinking … “If I don’t say anything, you can assume everything’s okay” … are over.
This is what I suggest.
1. Speak out your gratitude in a private setting on a face-to-face basis.
Of course, some of you will say, “I don’t know what to say. I’m more of hands-on techie kind of guy. I’m not that good with words.”
Well, you don’t have to be eloquent, but you have to say something when you see something you like at work or at home.
To make it easy, one of my colleagues, Chip Lutz put together a list of 60 ways to say “thank you.” Use some of his words, if you like, and if it makes it easier for you.
Among his list of 60, he includes:
- Great job!
- Way to go!
- Wow! You’re the best!
- I couldn’t have done it without you!
- You’re fantastic! You rock!
- You’re on top of things! I’m truly grateful!
- You’re a joy to work with!
- I’m impressed.
- No one holds a candle to you! Bravo! Great work!
- You are spectacular! Hip! Hip! Hooray!
- You are incredible! Well done!
- I’m proud of you!
- You make me look good! High five!
- The time you put in really shows!
- I appreciate your work! I appreciate you!
- Your contribution is important!
- Outstanding! Congratulations!
You see, these are simple words, but they have a lasting impact. Use them.
You could also…
2. Speak out your gratitude in a public setting to a whole group at the same time.
As a professional speaker, I get to meet and work with hundreds of leaders every year. I get to speak at their meetings, learning as much from them as I teach to them.
One such leader that I hold in high regard is Jill Blashack-Strahan, Founder and CEO of Tastefully Simple. When she received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, she went on the Academy Awards-like stage to articulate her words of acceptance and thanks.
She said, “Any recognition we’ve received, truly does not belong to me. It belongs to all of the people who are ambassadors for Tastefully Simple every day. I didn’t build this company. An amazing team of dedicated, passionate and loyal people did. As Founder and CEO, I’m deeply honored to be the spokesperson for all of the people who have made Tastefully Simple the success it is.”
Jill went on to mention all of those other people. She said, “I’m not the one representing Tastefully Simple at every home taste-testing party held by our consultants across the nation. I’m not the smiling face representing Tastefully Simple as our Ambassador of First Impressions in our headquarters’ lobby. I’m not the one representing Tastefully Simple through the excellent picking, packing and shipping of our products. I’m not the one representing Tastefully Simple in our contract negotiations or in the quality of our facility or mailings. I’m not the one representing Tastefully Simple in the prompt attention to our accounts payable or in the high-pressure inventory management function.”
Jill continued, “I’m not the one representing Tastefully Simple in our Sales Team by addressing our consultants’ day-to-day issues and challenges. I’m not the one representing Tastefully Simple in Team Relations when they’re hiring or dealing with sensitive issues. I’m not the one representing Tastefully Simple during intense special projects or impromptu, immediate marketing and public relations needs. I’m not the one representing Tastefully Simple through superb training, graphic design and communication pieces and product development.”
Jill finished by saying, “We don’t do it alone.” And I dare say the same thing can be said about every good and effective leader. They are grateful for their team members and they express their gratitude in a variety of ways on a regular basis.
3. Write out your gratitude in a note you send.
For years I’ve spoken about the importance of recognition. People need to know that you’ve noticed their good work and people need to know that you appreciate their contributions.
So a while ago I took the opportunity to practice what I teach. I recalled a high school teacher of mine who believed in me, encouraged me, and coached me. She taught public speaking and she helped me make it to the finals in the state speech tournaments year after year. It was an experience that gave me skill and gave me confidence.
I wrote her a note of thanks and a few days later she wrote back. In very large handwriting on a very large piece of paper, she wrote, “I apologize for this note being difficult to read and misspelled words, but I have become legally blind.” That touched my heart. Despite her difficulties, she wrote back.
But what really touched my heart — and reinforced the importance of gratitude — was one sentence. She wrote, “What a surprise and joy to receive your kind note! Like a smile from the past it came into my life. Thanks so much for remembering experiences from so many years ago.”
And to all of you reading this “Tuesday Tip,” I’m grateful that I have the ability and forum to help so many people in their careers and lives. Thank you for being a reader!