Posted by: Kristen Ridley | November 18, 2010

Saying “Thank you”

“Thank you”. Two short, simple words – easy to say, write, or type. They cost us nothing to offer, and they mean an enormous amount to people when we DO offer them. So why is it that it seems so difficult for people to say them???

I know the above is true from personal experience on BOTH the giving and receiving sides. I’ll give you examples:

On the giving side
In one of my jobs, I had employees reporting directly to me. The team had a project that was incredibly demanding – crazy expectations, ridiculous delivery deadlines, clients who couldn’t decide what they needed – you can relate, I’m sure! We all worked together and got the job done. After the dust settled and the client took their product [without saying thank you, I might add], I went out and picked up a small token for each of my employees, with a different, hand-written thank-you card for each of them which I left on their desks before they all got in, so it would be the first thing they saw when they arrived.

All of them came to me absolutely incredulous about the token. The reaction actually choked me up, because they were SO appreciative – more about the hand-written thank-you than the gift! Obviously, those folks didn’t hear those small, easy to offer words very often and when they did, it really meant something.

On the receiving side:
I worked on a large, complex, cross-functional project once, where the entire thing was badly organized and run, with objectives undefined but work proceeding anyway, a laughable budget based on the magnitude of what the project was supposed to deliver, a timeline that virtually guaranteed we were going to have to jam stuff in with overtime [for which, of course, there was no budget to pay us], and changes to the scope and deliverables throughout the process. You can imagine how happy the members of the project team were!

My part of the project was in the middle of several other groups of the team, so I had to navigate and negotiate with both to get my stuff included and moved through the pipeline. It was very challenging, but I try really hard in such circumstances, to remind myself that none of my frustrations should be taken out on my colleagues. I do my best to always treat my co-workers with respect and professionalism even when I’m frustrated. I did the same on this project.

After we had finished the biggest deliverable for the project, one of the other team members physically stopped by my office to say how appreciative he was of my doing everything I said I would, exactly when I said I would do it so that he could do HIS part on time, and how much easier it made things. He went on to say that he had told his manager how great it was to work with me, and how he wouldn’t hesitate to work on any project in the future where I was involved. That doesn’t happen much in the corporate environments I’ve worked in and boy did it make my week!

Now, aside from the fact that it’s very unfortunate that doing what you said you’d do is something that is remarkable, let’s look at this objectively – this person thanked me for doing my job, which I should be doing regardless of whether I get thanked for it or not. Nobody HAS to say thank you for doing your job, but it didn’t cost anything to do it, and how attentive do you think I’ll be if this individual were to ask me for help or support in the future?? Exactly!!

My point is, we’re all VERY quick to object, or complain the instant something goes awry, and if you doubt it, then Google any company name + “sucks”, and see how many results you get. We will MAKE the time to yell and scream, start a Facebook page, or rant on Twitter when something makes us mad, but we rarely take the few moments required to acknowledge when something is done well or someone does something helpful or kind for us. When you consider how little effort it actually takes to say “thank you, your efforts really helped me out and I appreciate it!” it’s almost embarrassing that we don’t do it whenever it’s appropriate.

I try to remind myself every day to look for opportunities to recognize help, commitment and dedication and kindness from everyone I come in contact with, whether at work or not. And, I figure if I post a blog about it, not only is that another reminder for myself to say thank you when it’s deserved, maybe a few other people will see it and maybe they’ll remember to say thank you more frequently too. Just think how different the workplace, heck – THE WORLD – would be if every time we’re tempted to say: “you suck” we decided to look for an opportunity to say “thank you” instead?

What do you say we all agree to give it a try?? Hey, what have we got to lose??



  1. Okay, I’ll start. Thank you for writing this Kristen. 🙂

  2. Eileen: 🙂 You made my day!

    But then, you ALWAYS make my day whenever I see your name . . . on an email, FB, or on the blog!

  3. Kristen, I think one of the key things you didn’t give yourself enough credit for was that you wrote personalized notes with the token gifts. I’ve received gifts at the end of projects that essentially told me the person distributing them knew nothing about me as a person, and it was almost worse than no recognition at all. You’re doing it right! (Thank you!)

  4. Appreciate the validation Nancy! As a writer at heart, I am a big fan of hand-written anything and to me that’s a huge compliment!

    Although I’m not certain everyone sees the same value in that as I do, I believe most people would be flattered by the thought in someone writing them a thank you note, as opposed to, say, an email or a Facebook post which, while I appreciate them too, is almost effortless to do, and – for me anyway – doesn’t have *quite* the same impact as receiving a hand-written note, perhaps even – gasp! – by snail mail! 😉

  5. Thanks to the prompting of a colleague, I am posting an “I’m grateful” statement on my FB page every day in November. It’s really changed my thought process from the negative and crazy stuff to what I’m grateful for.

    At work, I try hard to give credit and thanks where it is due. As such, I get more cooperation from my co-workers and colleagues across the state b/c they know I truly am grateful for their help and willingness to do extra when called upon.

    Good thoughts, again. Am enjoying your posts!

  6. Thanks so much for your kind words Susan! It’s an odd experience blogging, but so far I’m enjoying it. As I say in my “About” section, I really am after good conversations everywhere and anywhere I can get them!

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