Every year in November we place more focus on giving thanks than any other time of the year. Aside from the historical reason for this holiday, I think it is a good idea to have a focal point to be reminded of all the things we are thankful for. On the other hand, we need to be mindful of expressing gratitude all year round. You have so much to be thankful for and it is important to recognize these things every day. The people you interact with that give value to your life deserve to be recognized.
There are many ways of doing this, but I don’t think anything is more personal, or more authentic, than a handwritten note. In the tech heavy environment we’re surrounded in, it is important to remember to keep it personal as well. Keep in mind that the medium is the message.
A few reasons why expressing gratitude is important
Gratitude is contagious.
When other people see you expressing thanks and thankful gestures, it has a tendency to rub off on them. When you create an environment of gratitude, a culture of gratitude evolves.
“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” Brian Tracy
It is disrespectful not to be thankful.
I recently witnessed an act of favor between a store manager and a customer. The manager served the customer in a way that is outside the norm, helping the customer complete his purchase when he normally wouldn’t have been able to. As I watched this act of favor unfold, I couldn’t help but notice that the customer was unresponsive and seemingly ungrateful. He was focused on other things and barely noticed the kind act the manager had just performed. When he did finally realize what the manager had done for him, he gave the manager a quick ‘thanks’ and was on his way.
Thanks vs. Thank You
Call it semantics, but to me there is much greater value in saying ‘thank you’ versus a quick ‘thanks’. For one, it takes just slightly longer to say out ‘thank you’. Next, the word ‘thanks’ is sometimes used in a negative connotation, “gee, thanks”, sarcastically thanking someone for doing something not so appreciative. This is not to say a quick “thanks” is not warranted or just, but it shouldn’t be the norm. Be intentional about how you address the appreciation and add some context.
Sometimes the situation calls for more than a verbal gesture. Like I mentioned before, one of the best and most memorable ways for a leader to show he appreciates and values those who do great work, is by writing out a note.
Everyone knows that it takes more time to sit down and write a note than to write out a quick email. The time you take to do so will be recognized immediately. Secondly, a note can be more easily displayed as a constant reminder of how they are appreciated. Everyone’s handwriting is different, so unlike an email, the handwritten note shows the character of a person much different than text on a screen. While we primarily communicate via some form of technology these days, it is rare to see a handwritten note, making this classic method unique.
I encourage you to switch up your methods of showing appreciation frequently. Get creative and think of new and unique ways to show your appreciation. It doesn’t have to be monetary, but things such as a gift card or a paid lunch are simple and a great way to show your appreciation. A few years back I learned how to make knives. I gave one to my father that was customized with his initials and a decorative handle.
Make it public
When you recognize someone publicly, you have a higher potential to impact that person more positively. Not only are they not likely suspecting it, but to be recognized in front of peers lights a certain motivational fire that is hard to extinguish. Do you want to see someone light up with intensity? Make their contribution known.
Make your appreciation go viral. Encourage your team and your peers to foster an attitude of gratitude all year round.