Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Power of Thanks

My husband and I recently gave a presentation at a local Senior Center.  The day before I met with a staff member who helped me through their AV setup, and the next day he made sure his staff person had things running properly even though he himself was away. I called the following day to thank him, and could tell from the defensive tone when he answered that he was anticipating something bad – and that negative feedback was most of what he got in phone calls.  He was, I think, pleasantly surprised that I had called to say thanks.

Likewise, a few weeks ago a friend and I dined at Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda. The service was so terrific we actually called the manager over to compliment our server.  He, too, was surprised, and I’m sure passed it along to our server (and hopefully noted it for future performance appraisals.)   My sister-in-law sent a lovely thank you for her birthday gift, and over the year's the painfully printed thank yous from young relatives are always cherished. Mary Lehman, my local Council representative recently sent me a handwritten, personal note thanking me for a donation.

This got me to thinking about the power of Thank You.  All too often in our hurried society we’re easy to criticize (and trust me I’m not immune to this). The personal thanks (as opposed to the review on Yelp/TripAdvisor etc). is in many ways more powerful.  It establishes a connection between you and the person who did something.  It acknowledges that an effort was made, and appreciated (note: I didn't say you had to love the gift).   We could have put a review on Yelp about our Mon Ami experience – but would it make as big an impact on the manager as an actual customer taking the time to comment on something good?  Maybe, though they certainly would also appreciated the latter, I’m sure.  Mary could certainly send an email or typed note – and given her brutal schedule I wouldn’t have faulted her at all.  Yet the personal thanks made a real impact – and says something positive about her commitment to constituents.

Close family are not immune from the thanks benefit.  Do you thank your spouse/partner for something he/she does that may be routine – like getting you a cup of coffee?  Did you remember to thank aunts/uncles/grandparents for the birthday/Christmas/Hanukah gift they sent? Just because you’re related does not mean they  are obligated to gift you, nor does it absolve you from basic Miss Manners courtesy.  And, families/spouses being well, families, and spouses, the absence of thanks may not be commented on, but is likely noted.

Think of it this way.  Saying takes very little time, and generally costs nothing more than a minute or two.  It makes the recipient feel their efforts were appreciated.  And that’s worth a lot.

Any way, Thank you for taking the time to read this posting.  I really appreciate it.