Thank you

Following in the footsteps of his three older brothers, my youngest nephew received his Eagle award last week in a ceremony attended by family, friends, fellow Boy Scouts, and Scout leaders. One difference in this ceremony was that his mother, my sister, asked him beforehand for an opportunity to speak. In her brief speech, she noted that while people have given her and her husband credit for the achievement of having all four boys achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, she recognized how instrumental the Scout leaders had been, from the time my nephews entered Scouts to the present time, and gave these leaders credit by name.

That got me to thinking about the power of ‘thank you.’ I hope it is not rare for people to say and to hear, but I fear that is becoming less and less a habit. And when I say ‘habit,’ I realize that the casual thank-you when a waitperson puts a plate down in front of us or a cashier hands us our change can become almost unthinking. On the other hand, is that so bad—that we have the courtesy to say ‘thank you’ in these circumstances without having to think about it?

But there is more to ‘thank you’ than this. Do we have the consciousness and take the time to say those deeper and more personal thank yous? Thank you for taking the time to proofread my resume. Thank you for going out of your way to pick up the dry cleaning on your way home. Thank you for making that awkward phone call so I didn’t have to do it. To my mind, these thank-yous say not only do we recognize what another person has done for us, we acknowledge that person’s presence in our lives.

In the work arena, I didn’t have to see the research I found in my quick online search to know that a culture of appreciation and recognition generates benefits for employers and employees. I have by no means been a perfect employee in any of my jobs, but I do think that this is an area in which I have been conscientious—taking the time to recognize someone who has helped me or my department complete a task or achieve a goal. I have also been fortunate to be on the receiving end of that recognition. Here’s the great thing—it feels good whether you are the person doing the thanking or the person receiving the thanks!

Last year, after writing “Reciting the travel mantra” and mentioning an article that has influenced me, I said to a friend, “‘someday, I’d like to tell the author how much that article of hers has meant to me.” I had said that before since a phrase from that article is frequently quoted by both of us, but this time, I decided to follow through. It took a little bit of research, but I found a current email address and wrote to the author, letting her know how much that article has meant to me. Even if she hadn’t replied, I would have felt good for acknowledging the power of that article, but as it happened, she did reply and graciously said she was happy to hear it.

I think there are opportunities for all of us to say thank you more than we do—not just for the little courtesies, but for the people who have opened our eyes to possibilities, people who have given us an opportunity, people who have been good parents, teachers, friends.

So say thank you.

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