Learn to Say Thanks, Even Before You Mean It

Nov 23, 2021 | Executive Coaching

He said it.  I clearly heard it.

After weeks of passing a toy back and forth and marking each exchange with those two little words, our toddler finally associated “thank you” with receiving.  He used the phrase appropriately and without prompting from his mother or me.

“Thank you.”

We were proud, and we praised him for it.

Did that mean he had learned how to give and receive graciously in all social settings?  No, he struggled with sharing toys with his brothers for years.  He had to grow into the meaning behind the words, but he nailed the words.  Sort of.  “Tang too” would be the literal phonetic spelling.

Okay, so he had to grow into the expression, too.  So what?


Gratitude Culture

If you’re a leader who is working to change the culture in your organization, you probably recognize the same progression as my son’s learning experience.

Your people at first struggle with the new language and terminology.  And then, even if they have the words down, they still have a way to go before wholeheartedly embracing the new philosophies. Along the way, you must help them clarify the terms that define their success and celebrate their growth with recognition.

Never underestimate the power of a well-timed “thank you” and genuine appreciation.

In his New York Times best-selling book, Big Potential, GoodThink CEO and author Shawn Achor says, “Praise creates what I call a ‘virtuous cycle’ – the more you give, the more you enhance your own supply. When done right, praise primes the brain for higher performance, which means that the more we praise, the more success we create. And the more successes there are, the more there is to praise.”

Do you want to see your team elevate their game?  Praise them along the way toward their goals.

Your compliments must be specific and authentic, though.  Adults – especially competitive, driven individuals – will not receive “participation trophies” well.  False praise comes across as manipulative, or worse, condescending.

So, your “thank you” has to be more than hollow lip service.

Notice when employees use the new preferred terminology and let them know you recognize the effort they’ve put into adopting it.  Rely on analytics and metrics to quantify your team’s improvement after rolling out new systems.  Share the news of their success and openly reward them.  Allow your teammates to note a specific action on their part that is the cause for your gratitude.

Many employees have worked remotely for so long that the temptation to feel disconnected from the team is very strong.  Out of sight is out of mind.  Sometimes we forget to say thank you when the team member is not right in front of us. Gratitude from peers and managers will help remote workers feel more valued and attached to their team.

Much like my toddler, the words must be spoken first before growing into the full measure of understanding the context behind them.  That’s what the “virtuous cycle” is all about.

Thanksgiving is a U.S. national holiday in November, but organizations would do well to practice thanksgiving year-round. Employee appreciation and recognition of little victories throughout the year increase morale, energy, and engagement. The bottom line then reflects improving productivity and talent retention.


Counting Our Blessings

Giving thanks requires that we take a moment to look for noteworthy people, achievements, or conditions.  Some are outcomes of our efforts.  Many more are beyond our influence and are things I simply recognize as “blessings.”

The Dow is hovering just below 36,000 – an all-time high reached in early November 2021.  Yield is a phenomenal 21% over the past 12 months.  The U.S. economy is bolstered by a robust real estate market.  The automotive industry will likely perform well on Wall Street as electric vehicles come to the forefront, and recent legislation gives hope that construction and manufacturing jobs will be plentiful for the next decade.

inclineHR doubled our business again in 2021.  We are grateful for every client who has placed their trust in us – both our private pay and business-sponsored clients – and we look forward to continuing these relationships next year.  Our team has expanded to accommodate all this growth, and we’ve re-tooled all our very popular training sessions, coaching materials, and proprietary assessments to ensure that we’re delivering best-in-class service.

On a personal note, we have our health, and every tangible need is being met.  Our family is blessed in every way.


To our customers, partners, employees, contractors, vendors, social media followers, associates, friends, and family…
Thank you for the positive impact you’ve made on our lives, professionally and personally.

Happy Thanksgiving and “tang too,”

Greg & Rosina