How to Give a Thank You That Matters

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Often in our professional lives, it's appropriate to say “Thank you” to those who have gone above and beyond to help us. The problem is that most of us don't say it nearly enough and when we do, it's a very generic thanks. Whether you're networking, interviewing or just talking to your supervisor, coworkers or clients, going the extra mile to express sincere appreciation can make a huge difference. Not only does it make the person feel important and valued, it makes you look like a professional.


There are many times when people have gone the extra mile to help me or make my day brighter, like a barista at the coffee shop that always has a smile on her face and remembers my drink order. I've often wanted to thank her in a way that would mean more than my usual “thank you” when I pick up my drink, but I've been unsure about how to do it.


According to a recent article at Harvard Business Review, with just a small amount of effort, you can show your appreciation in a way that is meaningful and professional at the same time. Here are the key points:


Make it specific. When writing a thank-you note or expressing appreciation in person, be specific about what the person has done that you are thanking them for. For example, instead of saying “Thank you for being a great barista,” I could say, “Every time I come in, you always have a warm greeting and you remember my usual drink order.”


Acknowledge the effort made. After saying what you're thanking them for, acknowledge the effort that they made. For example, I could go on to say, “I know that the coffee shop gets busy and it's hard to remember all of the regular customers. It makes a difference that no matter how stressed you are, I can count on you for a warm greeting every time.”


Make it personal. Next, say how their actions make a difference to you personally. Using the earlier example, I would end my thanks by saying something like “You make me look forward to coming here in the morning and it makes my day brighter. I hope that your boss realizes how valuable you are to the company and what a difference you make. There are plenty of places where I could chose to get coffee, but they don't make me feel happy every day.”


By giving specific, sincere praise, you can express your appreciation in a way that is truly meaningful. How do you think the barista in the example would feel after hearing my praise? It would probably make her day, cause her to feel happier about her job and it would make her feel validated. Next time your boss, professional colleague, coworker or even your spouse goes out of their way to assist you, give them a thank you that really counts.


What do you think about this technique? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image Source: MorgueFile


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