A colleague emailed me recently asking if I had any material he could use for a presentation he was developing. I didn’t have exactly what he asked for, but searched my stash of slides and sent back a few that I thought might be useful. It took a bit of digging, but I was able to get back to him within an hour from the time he pinged me.
I’m not sure if he found the slides useful or not because I never heard back from him. I know there is a school of thought that suggests responding to emails just to say “thank you” unnecessarily clogs up the inbox. But I beg to differ with this view. I know we are all busy people and I was just doing my job to share some material with him, but let’s just say the lack of an acknowledgement – a simple “thank you” – did not help him build any social capital with me.
I’d like to contrast this story with another incident that happened recently.
I was preparing a debut workshop for one of our events. As is our process, all presentations get heavy scrutiny from our peers to ensure they hit the mark. Since this was a new presentation on a new concept from new material, I had a few trepidations about it.
Late one Friday afternoon, I got a voicemail from my colleague suggesting that we talk about the presentation. My first thought was that he hated the material but was too polite to put that in writing and post it to the publication workflow system. So we arranged a time to talk.
When I got on the call with him, I was very pleasantly surprised. Not only did he like the material, but he had taken the much more personal step of calling me to talk about and offer his suggestions. That was so much more helpful than writing a response and emailing it. He built his social capital with me and he felt good about being able to help a colleague out. And you can bet I thanked him profusely for his help. And let his manager know how much I valued his input.
The point of presenting these two contrasting examples to remind us about the power of a simple “thank you.” Everyone works hard, everyone is stressed and everyone could use a little more positive acknowledgement for their efforts. I’m not talking about that overused “everybody wins a prize for something” concept that seems to have permeated many schools lately. I’m talking about the authentic appreciation that we, as caring human beings, can offer to each other.
Why should you take the time to do that, to thank people for doing their jobs? Well, because. Because it lets people know their work is noticed and because it makes you a happier, healthier person. In his research, Shawn Achor – author of “The Happiness Advantage” – describes how this works. His research shows that when people have a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves. Taking time to genuinely thank people for their effort is a part of creating that positive mind-set. And it works both ways. They appreciate the acknowledgement and you get the benefit of having bestowed the praise.
So thank you for reading my blog. Really. I’ll bet if you take the time to say “thank you” to three people today – and genuinely mean it – you’ll have a much better day. Find three things you a thankful for and let those people know. You’ll make their day, and yours.
A positive, socially centered leadership example at work. Clients who would like to read more about socially centered leadership can follow this link.