“Thank you” – It’s a simple phrase that leaves a lasting impact.
Time and time again, my peers and I hear about the importance of this simple phrase, often accompanied by the recommendation to show our gratitude with a personal, hand-written note. So, then why don’t more people do it?
I’m not sure of that answer, but I will say that people should say “thank you” more often. It’s not just a polite gesture – studies have shown that saying thanks has a lasting effect.
In a study done by Francesca Gino, associate professor at the Harvard Business School, and Adam Grant, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, saying “thank you” showed a possible link to higher self-worth and a higher tendency to help others in the individual being thanked.
“Receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers others helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too” Gino said in an interview about the study with the Harvard Gazette.
I’m a big believer of sharing gratitude. Saying thanks – even for the little things – makes me feel good, and as evidence would suggest, makes others feel good, too.
From the professionals
I’ve asked four of my professional contacts why saying thank you is so important (and yes, I did send them hand-written thank you notes after):
From Erin Hart, managing director, Spitfire Strategies:
“Compensation only makes people happy insofar as it provides security. Saying thank you is one way to demonstrate appreciation for the people we work with,” she said. “When we deliver thanks with sincerity, with humor and in a timely way, we build bonds with each other. Those bonds help us to stay connected, want to work with each other and do great things.”
From Bill Imada, founder, chairman and chief collaboration officer, IW Group:
“My life is hectic, even crazed. It feels great to be appreciated. But it is also great to know that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life,” he said. “When someone takes the time to select and post a card, make a phone call or stop you in the hall outside of the office to express gratitude, you are often motivated to help others.”
From Juan-Carlos Molleda, Ph.D., public relations department chair, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications:
“Personal reputation builds slowly, takes time to consolidate, and every targeted step on the way to get there help. An upcoming professional accustomed to sending thank you notes will distinguish him/herself slowly and surely,” he said.
From Don Egle, MBA, ABC, APR, vice president for marketing and communications at LeTourneau University and Public Relations Student Society of America national professional adviser:
“As a leader, there is nothing greater than investing in the lives of other people…Seeing this personal and professional growth firsthand is ‘thank you’ enough,” he said. “So, never forget to say ‘thank you’ but more importantly take advantage of the things you learn from others and use it to in turn help someone else. Leaders growing other leaders is the truest and most sincere way to say ‘thank you.”
Crafting a heartfelt “thank you” message
Saying “thank you” should not be done carelessly. You’re thanking someone for investing in your life, so take the time to make it count.
Don’t focus on the formulaic “thank you” note – Take this opportunity to write from your heart. If you’re stuck on where to start, here are a few of my suggestions:
- Give a personal update
- Talk about future plans and how that person helped you work toward them
- Include a cool fact or anecdote that might interest them
- Be frank with your “thank you” – Don’t beat around the bush
Remember to be you. Don’t Google how to write the best thank you note. What will make yours unique is just how different it is from the rest. Make it heartfelt, dripping with sincerity.
And so, I leave you with this key takeaway: Take five minutes to say, “thank you” sincerely, and do it often. Write it down, type it out, say it in person. Whichever medium you choose, make sure you mean it.
Saying “thank you” will do wonders for your personal and professional happiness, and might just spark a chain reaction of do-gooders worldwide.
How do you like to show your gratitude? Let us know in the comments.
Josh Ferrari is a senior public relations student at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He serves as the president of UF PRSSA. You can find him on Twitter at @JoshFerrari.