IT IS such a simple yet powerful thing, but if I were to come across an article titled “The Power of Thank You”, I would probably bypass it or think that the writer is being patronising.
But saying “thank you” is the one lesson I keep revisiting as a leader. And each time, I get a different perspective.
The daily grind
It doesn’t matter what the context is. When you say “thank you”, you take interaction with another person to another level.
Many years ago, I read an article about handling complaints, and the writer suggested that when someone complains, say “thank you” as in, “Thank you for caring enough to bring this to my attention.”
When someone in a leadership position says “thank you”, it gets noticed.
I believe that we create what we look for. And if we, as leaders, look for things or attributes within our teams that we would be thankful for, this is exactly the kind of team we create.
We also set the tone for others in the team to follow.
Being thankful for what you have is about looking at what works. In my view, this is an important quality for a leader to have.
Those in management roles often think it is their job to fix things and therefore look for things that are not working.
In the process, they lose perspective and sometimes miss out on opportunities to mark and celebrate those things that work.
This reminds me of a story told by a Buddhist monk regarding his view on happiness.
He spoke about a wall he had built and how he was unhappy with one part of it where the bricks were not perfectly aligned.
He felt embarrassed about this section of the wall and whenever he took guests past it, he would try to hurry them along quickly.
One guest stopped a moment to admire the wall and told him that it was a really nice piece of work, only to have the monk point out the part that was “not perfect”.
But the guest replied that he was looking at the whole wall, not just a part of it.
When you see a glass as half-empty instead of half-full, this is what you are doing — focusing on the small details and missing the big picture.
De-stress and lift off
I think a chemical change happens in our brains when we say “thank you”.
We light up immediately because we are coming from a positive emotional state — gratitude. When this happens, we open ourselves to our creative possibilities.
I know that when I get stressed and I stop and think about the things I am thankful for, I am able to create a distance between the problem and myself.
Sometimes, this alone makes it possible for me to solve the problem because I am able to see things from another perspective.
Build a culture where every bit counts American psychologist Dr Alice M. Isen discovered in her research that people who feel positive think differently — they think better!
Her studies show that although positive people may be more inclined to help others, they will only help those who deserve it.
And people who feel good are less likely than other groups to be pushed into helping.
Perhaps this has to do with a sense of confidence in knowing where they stand.
Someone in a senior position has the ability to inspire those around him to do well.
Teams that work for such leaders do better. Every bit counts and, like building blocks, they add up to greater results and more cohesive teams.
Is saying “thank you” too simple a solution?
Maybe, but don’t you feel good when someone makes the effort to acknowledge your effort and says: “Thanks!”?
I know I do — even bosses need encouragement!
And why wait for a birthday or a special occasion to appreciate someone?
In the words of English novelist Gladys Bertha Stern: “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”