Coaching: ‘Everyone loves to be thanked’

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm

During the holidays, it seems business folks want to express gratitude — to customers and employees, even vendors who have provided exceptional support during the year. The sentiment is one I applaud. However, I believe it should permeate our relationships throughout the year, and not just take center stage for a couple of weeks.

My wise and talented friend, Marian Deegan, recently relocated to the Twin Cities and is busy cultivating a professional network there. She is so in the habit of expressing appreciation, of saying “thank you” in regular and creative ways. That behavior is helping her become known. In fact, her graceful recognition of favors done, doors opened, conversations granted could set the standard for all of us.

“Everyone loves to be thanked,” she says. And it is never too early and never too late to say, “Thank you!”

For Marian, a rejection letter is only one phase in relationship building. No slumped shoulders and tears. She will follow-up with her contact in an appropriate way, respectfully and genuinely continuing to build the relationship. That practice has resulted in some of those contacts actually locating a better fit for her in another organization. And you can bet she sends a very appreciative thank you card.

One of my coaching clients was puzzled this week at the lack of gratitude expressed after she presented her managers with significant, thoughtful holiday gifts.

Frequently, friends will tell me they’re appalled and confused by the silence after they’ve bestowed a gift — and sometimes those are costly wedding gifts! A professor at Marquette University told my daughter she was the first student who had ever written a thank-you note after the customary end-of-term dinner at the professor’s house.

A related situation that I hear about, at least weekly, is the lack of expressed appreciation in the workplace. Many clients are unhappy at the office for just that reason.

“All I hear from my boss is when something isn’t right in his opinion. I can work all weekend to get a project out the door on time, and that’s taken for granted.” Giving sincere recognition to an employee does so much to strengthen commitment to the boss and the organization.

I am amazed at the lack of those magic “thank you” words as part of everyday experience. Early on with a new hire, I recommend having a conversation to learn just how that person likes to be recognized. Some respond well to public acknowledgement, others cringe at that. Some like a token of thanks, even if it’s a free movie ticket, or a blue ribbon. Others love a written note. Find out.

We want our gifts to be noticed and acknowledged, whether the gift is a set of china or above-and-beyond effort toward meeting an organizational goal. One client who has hundreds of people in his department listened to feedback from most of those hundreds. They felt unappreciated, even unknown by their manager. “What can I doω” he asked. “There are too many of them for me to have a personal relationship with each one!”

Then he began answering his own question with creative solutions. Supervisors help keep him closer to each employee. He writes notes every day, sincerely recognizing achievement or even congratulating an employee because a son made the winning touchdown in the high school championship game. Stuff like that. My client is practicing more “walk-around” management and now feels like he’s surrounded by friends at work. It wasn’t hard once he made it a priority, and the payoff is rewarding professionally and personally.

As Marian says, “Everyone loves to be thanked.” They may reply, “Oh that was nothing.” Perhaps to them, but it was certainly something to you, something to be recognized. You can never err in expressing your appreciation.

We all like to hear it. I think we need to hear those words. I keep a file labeled “Thank You’s.” In it are letters of appreciation from clients, from CEOs of companies who have hired me to do coaching, even former employees who years later take the time to write a note about something about our relationship that helped them in their lives. Precious to me, every single one.

As are the response from you readers. It is always gratifying to receive your emails, phone calls and notes. From my heart, I thank you!

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