A discussion thread on the Australian Facilitator’s Network (AFN) list highlights a collaborative behaviour we don’t seem to practice enough of and in a meaningful way: the art of saying thank you.
When it’s heartfelt and authentic, saying thanks creates a new level of trust between two people. It opens up the possibility of working together, sharing knowledge and collaborating. The good practice of saying thank you can help you find your next collaborator. The art lies in making a meaningful connection with the person you are saying thanks to.
Here are three key behaviours associated with saying thank you.
Say thanks early so that it’s more meaningful
Peter Rennie started this excellent discussion and shared this anecdote on the AFN list.
In the early 1990’s I was the convener of a small association’s national conference. I had some experience of organising conferences previously and on some occasions had received a small honorarium. But this time my work was my gift to the association. The small organising team and I worked extremely hard. Our task was made all the more difficult by an executive that was tearing itself apart. As it turned out the conference was a great success. (Truly it may well have saved the organisation from imploding)
As convenor I had many verbal thank you’s. A week Iater I received a thank you note from Antony Williams that I still treasure today (email was rare in those days). And a month later I received a desultory, very formal, thank you letter from the president and committee – I threw that letter in the bin. I left that organisation and haven’t been a member since.
Add a personal touch to the way you say thanks
This discussion reminded me of a thank you note I’ll never forget.
June 2004 was the stupidest time to fall sick because it was appraisal and bonus time. I thought that’s it I’m going to miss having the ‘crucial conversation’ and be stuck with whatever I get. My boss spoke to me on the phone and told me look let’s talk about it when you’re back. I was on a long sick leave, nursing a slipped disc and he was skeptical if I’d rejoin etc. The situation felt a bit tragic. I had worked really hard the whole year, I wanted my feedback and to hear about how we did as a company and I would just about to loose out on that moment.
Two-three days after the phone conversation, I got a hand delivered envelope at home. When I saw this stuffed envelope with my name scribbled in black pen I thought that’s great more stuff for me to review! I was reviewing documents from home lying in bed. My boss suggested I could review using a pencil if pen’s didn’t work when you held them against gravity. Isn’t my boss the most productive guy on earth! Reluctantly, I tore the envelope apart and found a official letter addressed to me. It was the annual bonus announcement, but what caught my eye was this scribble at the bottom which said something like ‘Thanks, Chandni. For a great job and for your contribution to our growth. You got the highest bonus! Mathematical proof is enclosed:-)!’ And it was signed by my boss. And I thought WOW! This is a good man after all: he could have waited, I was due to get back to work in 2 weeks. I called him to say thanks and acknowledge the letter and for the first time in all those painful weeks I was truly excited. He said something like ‘ That’s good, you sound happy… I thought you would be curious to know how we did.’ Then he went on to ask me how I was getting along with the review… but that’s another story.
Practice gratitude everyday
In another post on the AFN list, Christo shared an example of some Japanese business people who visited him last year.
They run a very successful business in Japan, and they attribute their success to one primary cause – every morning the entire staff spends an hour or so simply stating their gratitude for whatever/whoever they feel fit. It can be their dog, their mother-in -law, the trees, life, clients, colleagues, love in their lives etc. No planning and goal setting in those sessions, just the connection with heart. Since doing that daily, the business has flourished, the attitudes have been extremely positive, respect within the company has increased, and the culture is one of trust, service and integrity.
Andrew Huffer shared another good practice on the AFN list.
1. Think of & write down a significant achievement of yours.
2. Then identify & write down the people who were key to helping you do this.
3. Share your gratitude with these people. (Andrew delighted these people and felt pretty good himself after sending them postcards!)
Don’t loose an opportunity to say thanks and tell people how they or their work made an impact on you.