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Three Steps to a Powerful Thank You

May 20, 2008
Everyone likes being appreciated - I know I do and I suspect most other people do also.

We were taught - or "trained" - at a very young age to say "thank you" at the same time we were taught to say "please." I still hear parents today asking their kids the same question my parents asked me: "What do you say?" Everybody now: "Thaaank you."

While we may not notice the times when we don't say "thank you," the person who deserves the acknowledgement does. In fact, if we neglect to say "thank you" often enough there's a strong likelihood that he'll refuse to do anything for us in the future. And really, why should he? If his efforts aren't appreciated, acknowledged or noticed, why should he bother?

The bottom line is that when we express our appreciation and gratitude, it's more likely that others will do, and continue to do, helpful or thoughtful things for us. The less appreciation and gratitude we show, the less others are willing to do.

The same goes for us: why would we spend our time and effort doing something for someone who can't be bothered to acknowledge it?

What Do You Say?
There are times when a plain "thank you" just isn't enough; it doesn't adequately correspond to what was received, be it in value, effort, or thought.

Here are three steps on how to express a really good "thank you."

1. Consciously say "thank you."
Sounds obvious, but how many times have we been so busy that we simply didn't think of saying "thank you"? Or the number of times we've said a "knee-jerk thank you" without thinking about who we're saying it to or for what reason?

To give a conscious thank you, pause for a mere second, look the other person in the eye and then say "thank you." Also, if you know her name, say it.

Saying "Thank you, Maria" is more personal and meaningful than the off-the-cuff autoresponse "thanks" while not looking up from whatever it is you're doing at the time.

2. State why you're thanking her.
Stating why you're saying "thank you" acknowledges and recognizes whatever is being offered.

For example, your employee or colleague stayed late at the office to complete a report you need for a particular project. Saying "Hey, thanks!" and giving a quick wave as you pass by her office doesn't represent the amount of effort and time it took for her to stay in the office until 10pm getting the work done for you. In fact, such a casual and unthoughtful "thanks" can be considered insulting and patronizing.

A better way to express your gratitude to Maria would be to first give her a conscious "thank you" followed by the reason why you're thanking her: "Thank you, Maria, for working late last night to finish off this report."

This way, Maria knows that you've recognized her effort to produce the report for you - and this is particularly important if you're her boss. Your staff and employees need to know that you noticed the "extra mile" they went through to get the job done. Acknowledge that and you'll make a positive difference in their work satisfaction level.

3. State the result her action.
"Thank you, Maria, for working late last night to finish off this report. It'll help me move forward and get this project completed on time."

This simple addition to your "thank you" describes the effect of her contribution and confirms that her effort was worthwhile. It helps to give her an understanding of her role in the bigger picture of her department or organization and that her contributions really do matter.

Saying a conscious and thoughtful "thank you" shows that we understand the efforts others make for us. In addition, it shows respect and appreciation for them and their contribution.

Taking the time to communicate our gratitude by saying "thank you" is key to building strong, long-lasting interpersonal relationships.
About the Author
Laurie Wilhelm is the author of Express Yourself to Success. This website and eGuides are designed to help you achieve success faster by using strong verbal communications skills. Achieve your success by working with others using improved social and interpersonal skills, public speaking, networking, negotiation, and conflict resolution. Find out how you can boost your career by going to www.expressyourselftosuccess.com.
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