How many times did you say “thanks” in 2014? Was it enough?
I’m going to say probably not, because you really never can say thank you too much. Everyone wants to feel appreciated; whether it’s the lady at the dry cleaners, one of your team mates or your spouse. Acknowledging what someone has done for you is a way to let them know that they matter.
I travel a lot and it amazes me how often travelers do NOT say thank you – to the flight attendants, gate agents, taxi drivers or hotel reception personnel. Maybe I’m more attentive to it because it’s something that’s very important to me, but I really do believe the world doesn’t say thank you enough. You can make a difference in how someone’s day begins or ends based upon simply genuinely thanking them for whatever it is that they have done for you or others.
Saying thanks happens even less often in the workplace. For example, a recent study showed that 70% of people say they would feel better about themselves if their bosses were more grateful and 81% say they would work harder if their bosses showed more gratitude. Wow.
Some more statistics: 88% of workers say that expressing gratitude to colleagues make them feel happier and more fulfilled, but only 10% do it every day. Sixty percent say they never express gratitude at work or do it only once a year. Thirty-five percent worry that they will be taken advantage of if they express gratitude.
Looking at those numbers, it’s obvious the difference a simple “thank you” makes. If leaders would show the way in regularly expressing gratitude to their team members, it could create a culture of thankfulness that can have a ripple effect in so many lives.
One of the ways I like to express gratitude is through handwritten notes. I write a lot of thank yous via email on a daily basis – thanking people for sending in reports, replies, efforts, etc. Handwritten notes I save for more meaningful events or accomplishments. When you type 60-70 words a minute it is EASY to type a quick ‘hey thanks’ note. But when you take the time to sit, with pen and paper, and think through your thoughts you’re crafting something more meaningful.
I can’t tell you how many times I get notes back in thanks for my note. It’s rewarding to watch that cycle begin. Over the years, I have seen others adopt the style/habit of writing handwritten notes. I’m thankful that they are paying it forward and like to think that I may have played a small part in providing the spark to get that fire going.
As a new year begins, take the lead in your workplace in creating a culture of gratitude. Take a moment and think of someone whom you haven’t thanked in a while. Get out a good quality pen and some heavy cotton rag card stock and reflect on what that person has done to positively impact your life. Then spend some time hand writing a thoughtful, meaningful note. I promise you the recipient will cherish it long after you wrote it.
They will reflect on the content of the note and even more on the effort you extended in taking the time to write it. It is a warm hug on a piece of paper. It’s hard to get that same feeling from an email or voicemail.
Marty Moore is the former CFO of Baldwin Technology Company, Inc., a leading international supplier of process automation equipment and related consumables for the print industry.