Do you say “thank you” like you mean it or do you just say it casually and almost apologetically?
And when you thank someone just how appreciative are you really being?
There is an art of saying thank you and mastering this one skill will instantly make your day to day interactions with people deeper and richer.
The key is very simple – you really have to mean it when you say thank you!
People get it when you genuinely mean something and also when you are just going through the motions.
Put yourself on the receiving end of being thanked – I bet you remember well the few times when someone has truly shown their appreciation.
I shall always remember the day when I invited a new friend for dinner and she asked if she could bring something – I simply suggested she brought a huge appetite.
Yet, when she turned up she came laden with gifts – thank you card, flowers, a bottle of wine and something for dessert! It was so thoughtful and unexpected; to this day I still share her story like I am doing right now.
The most beautiful thing about truly thanking someone is that it creates a deeper and instant bond between people.
Many a time a harried shop assistant has been working for many hours and has to face demanding customers. Yet it will take very little on your part to improve his or her day by showing your appreciation.
When I visit the USA, I always smile when someone says to me – “Have a nice day!”
I used to think this was a bit corny, but now I know that the very act of saying this phrase does impact both people.
Here are my tips for mastering the art of saying thank you:-
1. Say thank you like you mean it
This is key – say it like you really mean it from your heart. Pause and even slow down your speech when you say the words.
Be vocal and voracious about conveying your thanks – don’t be shy.
“I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom.” - Anonymous
2. Look for opportunities to thank others
It all comes down to living your life with an attitude of gratitude – and when you do so, you actively seek out opportunities to appreciate and thank people
“I feel a very unusual sensation – if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.” – Benjamin Disraeli
Every time someone does something for you, it’s an opportunity for you to thank them.
At the same time, do not confuse giving thanks and compliments with flattery. You should be positive, sincere and focused on something specific. For example, “You look radiant today”; “You sang really well today”.
Conversely, don’t be flippant when some one praises you or gives you a compliment. Instead of saying it’s nothing, just say “thank you”.
3. Look people in the eye
When you say thanks and look at people in the eye at the same time, your words will have great meaning.
I thought I was great at looking people in the eye but recently found that I hadn’t been doing it much recently.
Notice how much you actually look people in the eye – and learn to do so all the time.
Of course, you don’t stare intently as that could be a bit disconcerting and spooky!
4. Use their name
If you know their name, then do address them using their name. Most people who make your life so easy such as shop assistants usually have a name badge on for a reason – so you can get to now their name and get to know them better.
However most people don’t address shop assistants properly and just see them as somebody there to bag up their groceries. You will be surprised how much it means to them when you thank them and use their name at the same time.
If you don’t know their names, then it’s easy to find out – just ask.
5. Be specific about what you are thanking people for
Sometimes it means even more when people know what they are being thanked for e.g. Thanks so much John for bagging up my groceries.
It makes the whole exchange richer and more meaningful than just a casual “thanks”.
From today onwards, begin to find out the name of the people who serve you such as your postman and newsagent.
6. Send a thank you note or a gift
With the advent of email and text messages, people are far less personal in conveying their thanks.
If you can’t thank someone face to face in person, call and speak to them.
If you can’t see them or call them, then send them a hand-written note or a thank-you card. And if you feel the situation warrants it, then send a gift.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” – Melody Beattie
7. Commend and refer people to others
One of the best ways of showing your appreciation for what someone has done for you is to refer their services to other people.
I have a health practitioner friend who was very supportive to me a few years ago, and to date I have referred her to dozens of new clients and that’s my way of thanking her.
You could also commend someone to their manager for something they have done for you.
The possibilities of praising someone and showing your appreciation directly and indirectly are endless.
Let’s create a crescendo of appreciation
You have a choice in how you behave towards others. You can be generous, considerate and caring to the people around you or you can be selfish, self centered and always put your own interests first.
“Every time we remember to say “thank you”, we experience nothing less than heaven on earth.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
Remember that when you are genuine and authentic and you mean it, people will get you.
A sincere compliment or even just acknowledging people’s presence can make a huge difference to them – and you.
Remind yourself that every interaction with another human being is a gift and an opportunity for growth and contribution. Everyone you meet is an amazing teacher.
Let us all begin a crescendo of appreciation and thanking people from today.
And please do share below your experiences of the art of saying thank you.