What am I doing here?
I shut down my computer exhausted and looked around the office. All the hustle and bustle from the day had died and it was screaming emptiness. No wonder. It was 9 pm on a Thursday night.
I had started a job of my dreams a month ago, but it was turning into a nightmare. There was so much to learn and to adapt to. I felt lost, incompetent and like an imposter.
What was I thinking? I don’t belong here.
I gathered around my things and headed to the elevator depressed and with a lump in my throat. Before the doors opened, I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and saw one of the top managers of the company.
I looked at him cautiously. But instead of telling me off, he came over, shook my hand and said thank you. He told me that I had been doing a great job and how impressed he was of the impact I had achieved in a month. I was speechless.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I am good enough.
The next day I went to the office with a smile.
Why is it so difficult to say thank you?
I’ll never forget what he said. That simple thank you few years ago has kept me motivated even during the hardest times and I go back to that moment whenever I’m doubting myself or feeling down. We all want to feel appreciated, feel like we matter.
But why don’t we say it to others more often?
Sometimes we’re too focused on ourselves and our own problems, that we don’t notice the effort and little acts of kindness others do around us. And if we do, we might appreciate them in our head yet never tell them.
At times we’re jealous of the success they’re having.
Sometimes it’s our ego telling us that saying thank you makes us look weak and soft. That scarcity increases the perceived power: Less I thank people, more they appreciate it when I do. The value goes up.
No, it doesn’t.
Only thing going up is your reputation as a person not to work for.
Why saying thank you is so crucial
I doubt there’s one person on this earth who doesn’t have moments of self-doubt. That little voice that stops us going for the opportunity, speaking up in a meeting, or mentioning our idea to our boss. It can trigger us to over-react, act defensive or get depressed by the smallest setback at work.
Especially when we’re stressed.
Yet when we’re feeling appreciated at work or at home, that little voice gets weaker. There’s a huge power in that smile, reassuring touch and kind words that last for months, if not years.
There are people who focus criticising or telling others what they do badly, with the aim to get them to change for the better. But it only makes people feel worse, unappreciated and demotivated. Even if they’d actually like to change, e.g. stop causing conflict in the team, most likely they won’t.
When you take a different approach and thank them whenever they have taken a step to the right direction, however, you’ll enforce good behaviour. People do much more when they feel they’re appreciated for it.
E.g. if you take a moment after a good meeting to thank the person usually causing conflict for his calm way of handling even the tough questions this time. Guess what? You’ve made someone happy AND they’re more likely to do even more positive things in the next one.
Saying thank you increases motivation, productivity and good spirit in the team PLUS it spreads. When you show your appreciation to someone, they’re more likely to thank others that day or pay you the compliment back when you need it the most.
The more you appreciate, the more you’re appreciated.
How to make someone’s day today:
Don’t let this be one of those blog posts you’ll read, agree with and then forget. Even if you’re feeling down or having a busy day, take few minutes of your time to spread happiness:
1. Make a short list of people from your team, management and personal life who have done something great, impressive or generally nice in the past few weeks.
E.g. your team member has been more proactive than usual, your manager took time to listen and go through your project with you, your friend cheered up your day, your partner washed the laundry…
Why the management? They are human too with their own self-doubts and appreciate a thank you as much as everyone does.
2. Pick one person of each category
If you have a team, make sure that you don’t always thank just one particular person. You might feel like you’re being positive, but this makes others feel even more unappreciated.
3. Send them a little message or say thank you in person, telling what you’re grateful for.
Nothing complex. This can be as simple as: thanks, that really cheered up my day or thank you for taking time the other day to speak through my project. It was very helpful and I appreciate it.
Extra tip: you know that person who serves you water at the restaurant or opens the door or let’s you order first in a pub? Instead of ignoring them, smile and say thank you.
You never know what they’re going through.
Make a difference
Think back to a moment when someone appreciated your work or the little thing you did to help out at home. It felt good, right?
I know you have other things to do, but just start with one person. Maybe the colleague next to you who brought you a coffee this morning, maybe the friend who just sent you a meme on Whatsapp to cheer you up or maybe even your connection on LinkedIn who’s motivating post you needed today…
Whoever it is, say thank you : )
You’ll see that a funny thing happens: when they smile or message you back, you’ll feel good, positive and motivated yourself too.
You made a difference.
Please don’t be thrifty with kind words, my friends, they can have a massive impact.
I believe in you x
Ps. if you found this post useful in anyway, please do like it, share it or tell it in comments. I would really appreciate it : ) Thank you!