One of the most basic things that parents teach their children once they are first starting to talk and interact with other people and children is to use the word “Please” followed appropriately by “Thank You.” At least I HOPE parents and teachers are still enforcing the use of please and thank you these days. Recently, I have found myself saddened that I rarely hear the word please used by adults any more and the use of thank you has become all but nonexistent.
Thank you matters in ALL facets of your life. I was really surprised to learn how infrequent thank you notes have become not just in networking for new job opportunities but in following up with people after interviews. Can it sometimes be a huge pain in the ass? Abso-freaking-lutely. For my current job, I interviewed with 17 different people when all was said and done. And it definitely took time and energy to write out 17 thoughtful and unique thank you notes (because you know they are going to get together and compare – so copy and paste just won’t do) but I know it made a really great impression on my now employer and bosses. When I found myself interviewing candidates for the temp replacement for my assistant, I only got one thank you note. And that was only after that candidate found out she did NOT get the job.
It matters in the work place – thank you to the geeky IT staff member means not only that you truly appreciated them quickly responding to your critical emergency (facebook froze your computer) but ensures that they will promptly answer your calls and emails in the future. Remembering to thank office staff and secretaries will make your work life easier in ways you may not even imagine at the time – copy jobs will get finished faster, your office supply order will mysteriously get bumped to the front of the line. And in my line of work….when a lawyer puts me through HELL to get something done for them, the ones that say thank you are the ones I am going to go out of my way to help in the future.
If you are in a sales or service-oriented business, doesn’t remembering to thank people seem like a no-brainer? Thanking someone for their repeat business or thanking someone for making a purchase with you in the hopes that they will become repeat customers or refer additional business to you.
Or maybe you have done fundraising for a cause that you are passionate about or even helped a your child or a friend’s child sell cookies/candy/etc. to raise money for something related to their school or youth group. Have you remembered to thank people for their donations or efforts? An actual thank you note (email acceptable, old-school handwritten preferred)…not just a facebook status update thanking people far and wide. Make people know how they individually contributed to your effort and what that meant to you. That carries a whole lot more weight than a virtual shout out on a social networking website (that you can’t even be sure they read anyway).
Incorporating thank you into your everyday vocabulary isn’t that hard when you think about it. Thank the bus driver (I wave to mine every day after I get off the bus), thank your coffee barista, thank the checkout person at the grocery store. Thank your friend/significant other/roommate for something simple, like taking out the trash or forwarding you an email that they thought would interest you.
And then make an effort to be a bit nicer and do things worth getting thanked for. Sometimes this is something really simple that everyone loses sight of in our day-to-day and getting mired down in the details or our own all important lives and routines. Your “thank you” could totally make someone else’s day, and that’s a pretty cool thing.
I once had someone tell me that I seemed very “Southern” in my attempts to make every day use of good manners. I took that as one of the best compliments ever. Being gracious is not something that just comes naturally – it is a habit to be learned, practiced, and cultivated until it becomes second nature. You have to want it, it doesn’t just come to you one night while you are asleep.