Happy : fitting, effective, and well adapted
This week as Thanksgiving Day approaches, take time to thank the people you work with for their accomplishments and results, advice and presence, struggles and sacrifice, time, energy, and effort. When you give thanks make it genuine, well-timed, specific, and personal. Then the people you thank will: 1) trust that you notice and value their contribution, and 2) become more willing to engage in cooperative and collaborative effort that gets results.
Reflect on your purpose when you give thanks. Consider:
- Recognizing with gratitude
- Acknowledging with praise
- Sharing credit
- Revealing value
- Rewarding results
- Expressing appreciation
- Encouraging commitment
The Value of Giving Thanks
Saying "thank you" does more than just give "warm fuzzies." It:
- Strengthens your workplace. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, known for the Gallup Poll and authors of First Break All the Rules (Simon & Schuster 1999) found that measuring the strength of a workplace can be simplified to 12 questions. One of those questions is "in the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?"
- Increases cooperation, collaboration, and results. According to the article Why 'Thank You' Is More Than Just Good Manners (Jeremy Dean, 2010) research shows that people feel valued and more willing to contribute when they have received thanks and appreciation for their work.
- Focuses and motivates performance. People tend to repeat behaviors that lead to positive experiences and will soon give up behaviors that do not lead to positive experiences. It feels good to be thanked.
- Builds trust through constructive feedback. When negative feedback forms the bulk of performance commentary, people can become resistant, defensive or immune to it, and may lack awareness of their strengths. Appreciation brings awareness of contributions and strengths. People become more intentional about contributing their best and less averse to constructive criticism when it is balanced with praise and when both are merited.
- Boosts emotional intelligence (EQ). Thanking others brings awareness of emotions the ability to express feelings of gratitude with specific and objective examples. This can increase others' self-regard, stress tolerance, and optimism. Others gratitude invites people into greater awareness of their strengths and increases self-confidence. A "thank you" might help someone through a stressful day; help them feel more positive and resilient.
Six Tips for Giving Genuine, Well-Timed, Specific, and Personal Thanks
- Decide if the person would prefer public or private recognition.
- Describe specific behavior, accomplishment, and results.
- Connect behavior, accomplishment, and results to a larger context.
- State the outcome, what occurred as a result for you, your team and organization.
- Discuss the fact and the value of the accomplishment, what the person and their action meant to you personally.
- Encourage behavior that you want to reinforce.
For example "Thank you for filling in for me at the caregiver collaborative strategic planning meeting. Your attendance cemented our agency’s commitment to providing shelter for the homeless elderly. Your willingness to step up at the last minute gave me the time I needed to handle a personal crisis at home."
Fit Your "Thank You" to the Person Being Thanked
People are different. You want your "thank you’s" to be well-received. Here are tips for fitting your "thanks" to different people, behaviors, preferences, and styles. Think about the other person and give thanks in ways that s/he will appreciate.
Some people will receive your thanks best when you:
- Are straightforward and stick to business.
- Are clear, specific, brief and to the point.
- Give thanks for their logic, objectivity, and results; with solid, tangible evidence of value.
- Present specific pros and cons of potential choices: "You chose X, over Y because…Thank you."
- Schedule a specific time and location to give your thanks.
- Use email, voicemail, text, card, letter, a phone call, or speak face-to-face.
- Take a casual, low-key, and friendly approach.
- Have time to chat about what happened; listen and respond to their feelings about the situation.
- Reward them with more than words: lunch, a check, a day off, a tweet or LinkedIn referral.
- Show sincere interest beyond the "thank you" and the work task, interest in the person.
Words to use to convey your thanks:
Practice Saying Thank You
How aware are you of the value each member of your various groups brings to your work? Can you say "Thank you" to each person in each of those groups for one important contribution that helped to fulfill the mission and objectives of the group this year?
Write three thank you notes to three different people: a boss, an employee, a colleague, partner or associate, a customer, a member of your team, staff, boards, or committees, a friend or family member. You choose.
- Communicate the situation
- Describe specific behavior
- Identify the consequences of the behavior
- Denny, back in 1980, I was new to AT&T. You worked in the cubicle next to mine. You insisted that I participate in the savings plan, "They give you 66 cents for every dollar you invest. You can't beat it!" Now, 31 years later, those dollars will help to fund my retirement. Thank you.
- Ron, when you managed our team, you led us in a study of the book Getting to Yes. Those discussions taught me the power of understanding others' perspectives and how to negotiate for mutually beneficial outcomes. Thank you.
- Pam, as my friend, colleague, and accountability partner you keep me on track and name my distractions with your questions and gentle chiding. Thank you.
Saying "thank you" and sharing appreciation should not be used as a ploy to manipulate others for selfish ends. Genuine thanks celebrates what has already been given as it welcomes willingness, participation and engagement.