2 min read

Two little words

We've been on a big manners kick in my house lately. I have a two-year-old daughter who has not yet grasped the value of the "magic words." It's tough to get her to remember to say "thank you,"  but it's even harder to make her understand how important it is to say those two simple words. I am certainly no etiquette or communications expert, but I know the value I place on simple courtesy. And I'm pretty sure it's not out of line with how many people want converse. What my daughter has yet to learn is that saying or not saying "thank you" can make an impact on circumstances in life—both in business and personal matters. (My two-year-old's business is very serious and unrelated to this blog.)

As project managers, we're constantly "tasking" people with things. I can't even begin to count how many times I have had to ask someone to work quickly, later than expected, out of their comfort zone, and so on. It can get to a point where it's almost as uncomfortable to say thank you than it is to just ask for something. But you can't let any discomfort get in the way.

In the end, just simply saying thanks to team members can have serious benefits. When you show that you care for and appreciate someone's hard work and dedication, you build loyalty. At the same time, you can increase productivity, which leads to greater satisfaction for everyone—clients and internal teams. Plus, not only do you show personal respect for someone's time and attention by thanking them, you show how you conduct business by simply offering two words (when applicable, of course). I guess I'm saying that extending this simple, time-honored courtesy helps you stand out. And by not offering them you stand out even more—not it a good way. It also goes a long way toward forging the relationships that can turn into opportunities, both personal and professional.

Do you find yourself forgetting to thank people? You don't have to own up to it publicly. But think about it. And think about how you feel when someone thanks you. It can be really gratifying if done well. Here are three tips on using those two little words:

Mean it: There's nothing worse than an insincere "thank you." Gratitude fizzles if you don't really feel it, because the recipient can feel it too. And another thing...don't thank someone sarcastically. Firing off a sarcastic "thank you" out of frustration might make yourself feel important, but it makes others feel horrible.

Timing counts: We all slip every once in a while. Whether you're thanking someone for a favor they did, a lunch, or a document that they delivered, you should thank them immediately. If you feel the need to send an email, do it. Just don't wait a week. And don't feel like you have to write a book or overstate how thankful you were. Just getting it out there is what counts.

Don't go over the top: It's uncomfortable when someone won't just stop. A humble thank you is all that is necessary.

The moral of the story: simple or complex, e-mailed or spoken, saying "thank you" always works.  It makes others feel good about what they've done, and it makes you look good (whether you intended to or not). So go on and thank others for their generosity. Thank others for the things, both little and big. Mean it. Own it. And do it often. It'll make you feel good to know that even a two-year-old can do it.

(thank you for reading)