It’s January and welcome to National Thank You month.
While etiquette professionals and books promote the idea of sending out Thank You Notes, don’t neglect the behavior of saying thank you too.
They have designated January as National Thank You Month. This might have originated from the greeting card industry because of receiving gifts following the Christmas holidays and they want you to buy their printed cards. I know my wife and I dutifully sat down on the last Sunday in December and wrote our Thank You notes to our children. It is a lovely reflective time to treasure and remember what we have received.
Learn to make saying or expressing thanks to those around you more a way of life beyond this designated month.
When to Say Thank You
If you follow most mothers’ instructions to their young children, you say thank you whenever anyone has done a good deed for you. It should be an automatic response to the positive actions of others on your behalf.
As mentioned above, thanks should follow the receipt of any gift. However, we are noticing a trend of sorts that younger people are not as immediate or mindful to do this following receipt of wedding gifts. My wife and I have seen more often than not no written acknowledgement of a gift at all. Not that that is the reason you give a gift. It has just been a surprise to us.
That’s why when we received a thank you card a week after the wedding reception this past summer from some newlyweds it was a welcome surprise. It shouldn’t create a bias, but it causes you to more positively regard the individuals.
Saying thank you should be a part of your DNA whenever someone does a courteous act such as holding the door open ahead of you. Expressing thanks to people should show no favoritism over another. Learn to say thanks to family, friend, or stranger.
We all recall times when a colleague at work has lifted us up in time of need, lightened the burden of an overwhelming job task, or advised and helped you. This generates the immediate thank you. And then there is the reflective thank you sent in the form of an email, an e-card, a written note, or a scheduled time to sit down and connect.
Reflective Moments of Thanks
Sometimes I have meditated and thought about whether there is someone who has made a difference in my life, that I should give special thanks for.
Some people I know have passed on from this life. However, the time to think with gratitude upon their kindnesses, going to bat for me, helping me in whatever way they did, has brought a smile to my face and in my mind. This type of thanks brings a spirit and attitude of gratitude.
My company president, and former CEO, took a chance with me by acquiring my company over a decade ago and bringing me on board. I will be forever grateful. I remember sitting down to type out a thank you letter shortly thereafter and highlighting the consequences and benefits of that decision. I never expected that letter to end up being framed and put on the wall of his office in his home.
That is the impact a thank you can make—whether literally being framed and placed on a wall or framed in a person’s heart and mind.
How about writing the author of a book that changed your life? I have written several of these over my lifetime.
One of those occasions was my writing a thank you letter to the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, author of the classic book, The Power of Positive Thinking: A Practical Guide to Mastering the Problems of Everyday Living. This is a self-help book that I borrowed from the library in my pre-teens.
However, I did not write my thank you to him then in my teenage years. I had not yet gained sufficient understanding of what thanks, gratitude, and recognition really mean to others.
It was twenty-five years later when I finally wrote Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.
To my surprise, he wrote me back.
I accompanied my letter with my then promotional folder for my speaking business to show him the impact his book had made on me.
He replied in his letter, “I am fascinated by your folder. It’s a winner. You will motivate thousands… in your speaking career.” And then he continued, “I am sending you, with my compliments, a copy of a sort of sequel to the book above mentioned.” Yes, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale thanked me for the thank you letter I sent him and accompanied it with a signed copy of his latest book.
Give Thanks Daily
Make saying thank you a daily practice in your life.
Thank the restaurant server who serves you by looking up at them and saying thanks. Thank a family member who takes the time to help you with a chore. Thank a colleague who agrees to assist you on an important task. Thank your spouse or partner for the kindness they showed you this morning. Thank the person who stops their car to let you pull out into their lane while driving, simply with a smile and hand wave. Go out and catch the garbage collector and thank them for their perceived thankless job.
Oh, and thanks so much for reading this post.
Recognition Reflection: Stop and think about who you should thank right now that you know you have neglected to express thanks to.
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.