Last week we looked at the ways we can notice the nice around us. This week, we will look at how we can respond to the nice by saying “Thank you.”
Several years ago, I was in a demanding job leading a small team that was changing payroll systems for a large number of people. There was a tight timeline with the added stress of mistakes impacting people’s paychecks. Everything went off without a hitch due to the hard work and attention to detail of my team. I was tempted to simply move on to the next task in our long list, I was reminded that I needed to pause and say thank you.
With a little coaching from a sage advisor, I bought small packages of cocoa dusted almonds and a box of thank you notes. I wrote each member of my team a short note that began, “Things have been a little nuts around here.” I continued with, “I appreciate the way that you…” and wrote a very specific observation about the person. I concluded with, “Thank you for all that you do and I look forward to tackling new challenges with you and the rest of our team.” I was surprised to see that these simple cards were still tacked up to the bulletin boards of several cubicles two years later when I was leaving that position.
I learned several things about saying thank you from this experience. First, a personal thank you is more effective than a group thank you. Second, specificity in a thank you increases the meaning to both the recipient and the one thanking. By recalling the specific way in which each person contributed to our success, I was able to recognize the need for that help. Third, a small gift and or a handwritten note demonstrates an intention and effort that is becoming more and more rare in a world of e-mail, text, and emoji. Finally, I found that saying thank you can also be an invitation to continued relationship.
As I consider the past few weeks, I can see these lessons in the way that saying thank you for help with a task or even a kind word allowed me to see my own need for help or encouragement. I can see in my prayer life the way that offering thanksgiving invites further relationship with God. I can even see the way that small gifts given and received provide a connection and tangible reminder of friendship.