Giving thanks at the Thanksgiving table is usually reserved for the big things in life – health, family togetherness, and the successes of the year. But often it’s the small things that just make life easier that miss our “thank you” list. As we’re driving in stop-and-go traffic on local roads, do we ever silently thank the Department of Transportation employee who first came up with the idea of a turning lane? As we’re lugging two-weeks worth of clothes through the airport, do we bestow a blessing on the inventor of wheeled luggage? Or how about the engineer who first said, “Let’s put a cup holder in the car.”
I imagine each of the people who first came up with these ideas had to convince the corporate bureaucracy that the idea was a good one and then fought long and hard to make sure that it happened. In my fantasies about these unknown people, I imagine their frustration when their ideas were initially scoffed at and admire their doggedness in pursuing their concept until it was accepted. I hope that these intrepid innovators got the proper “thank you.” If not, here’s one from me.
Which brings us back to the importance of a “thank you.” What is it? Well, it’s a time when you step outside of yourself and think, “Hey, someone else just made my life a little better.” And, you don’t have to use the words “thank you” to show your gratitude. As you walk into the office in the morning or into a store and see the window washer at work, try telling him how great it is to look out clean windows. To rephrase Clint Eastwood, you will “make his day.”
I’ve seen the power of the “thank you” over and over at Epoch 5 Public Relations. Clients pay us to do the work that we do and they expect us to do it well. We should expect no more than a check in the mail, and we don’t. But for clients who also say “thank you” when we have performed exceptionally well, magic happens. We work harder to be sure to never disappoint and we work extra hours to show that their confidence is well founded. A “thank you” energizes our efforts and breeds more successes.
Sometimes the “thank you” is in the form of a quick e-mail, sometimes a letter and sometimes it’s an elaborate bouquet or gift basket. What matters is that it is a sign of appreciation. It probably should be no secret that two clients for over 20 years, King Kullen and Daniel Gale Sotheby’s, say “thank you” often, through email, letters or, yes, even with a bouquet or gift basket. The result: Everyone working on their accounts can be counted on to swim across Long Island Sound in January if it meant improved results for these companies. Well, maybe not January, but you get the idea.
It’s right that we keep a perspective on life when sitting around that dining room table on Thanksgiving and remember the important reasons we are giving thanks. But, let’s extend the giving of thanks to the hundreds and thousands of times all year long that our lives are better because someone else cared enough to do their job exceptionally well. These people are all around us – we just don’t often see them because they haven’t been energized by the power of appreciation.
Beyond our families and coworkers, we can spread the positive vibe of better service – and see a lot more smiling checkout cashiers – by remembering those two very powerful words, “Thank You.”
And, before I forget, thank you for reading.