There is a long forgotten secret of the business world, but it also applies to volunteer work and life in general. While we might encounter it on occasion, for the most part, this secret has been abandoned like the concept of wearing spats or holding doors for women. In an effort to improve your lives and your careers, I am going to re-introduce you to the secret. Even in today’s world, there are some magic words that can smooth all waters, inspire those around you to great heights and even convince people that they have a purpose in the world. What words could possibly hold such power? Thank you.
That’s right. A simple thank you can do wonders for every aspect of your life, whether you are giving or receiving. In today’s hyper-accelerated world, though, the quaint niceties that served our parents so well have fallen into disuse. Now requests have become orders and we begin to assume that no thank yous are needed. Doesn’t that person work for you, after all. They are only doing their job. Why should you thank them? As you will find, there are a host of reasons.
The most important part of job satisfaction often has little to do with the money we are paid or the perks we receive. While people may tolerate a good paying job with little satisfaction, they will jump ship whenever something better comes along. What they are really seeking is appreciation. An almost indefinable sense that their work is important and that they are contributing to some larger cause.
Offering a thank you to those around you, and receiving them yourself, can mean the difference between a great career and no career at all. If, as a worker, you fail to receive honest appreciation for a job well done, you will quickly become disenchanted with any job, not matter how high the pay. There is a void that money cannot fill and trying to do so only leads to larger problems.
If, as a manager, you fail to give honest appreciation for the work of those around you, you will find your career stunted, your initiatives stalled and your projects slowed. You rely on others to bring your ideas to fruition and meet, if not exceed, your goals. If you do not appreciate the work of others then you will find no loyalty from your employees, no desire to go beyond the basic requirements of the job and general dissatisfaction on both sides of the relationship.
Last weekend I spent both Saturday and Sunday acting as a sort of host for the LA Podcasters during an arts event. I was meeting and greeting visitors, explaining podcasting and managing the day’s schedule of live recordings. While I was doing this to promote my own podcasts, as well as those of the other members, it was the numerous thank yous I received that kept me going through the long days. I would have still had some satisfaction of a job well done, even if no one said thank you, but it is amazing how much effect those two small words can have. It let me know that I was spending my time in a useful and productive way and that those around me took notice of that.
Of course, there is no need to limit this sense of appreciation to just your co-workers. If someone does a good job for you — the waiter at the restaurant, the checker at the hardware store, the clerk at the DMV — say thank you….and mean it. A few, well-applied, moments of appreciation can change your life. You just might notice better service next time you come in. You might unexpectedly get a discount or special deal. Don’t try to fake it, though. An unfelt thank you does more damage than good and can leave people with a worse opinion of you than when you started.
Can the power of thank you be overestimated? I think not. In fact, it can give us the energy and inspiration to do some truly great things. When there is appreciation all around, teams begin to think and move as one. Old animosities are forgotten and new friendships are formed. Everything just seems to come together and amazing things can happen. What does it cost? A few minutes of connection. A few moments of appreciation for a job well done. Imagine such a large reward from such a small investment.