With November comes Thanksgiving, and with Thanksgiving comes a steady stream of reminders about the importance of giving thanks. We all have much to be thankful for, yet due to the whirlwind of daily activity we face, we frequently underachieve at remembering to thank people for the impacts they make on us. Given that this is a month where we are going to frequently be reminded to take time to give thanks, it feels appropriate to review a few things to keep in mind to clearly express gratitude. When thanking people, I think there are three important things to remember to most effectively communicate appreciation.
First, be authentic. Overstating your appreciation or exaggerating the positive impact someone made on you makes your message seem insincere. Just like simple deeds can be beneficial, a simple “thank you” can be effective to show appreciation. Acknowledging gratitude does not need to be a five-star production; keeping it authentic and appropriate for its recipient makes it much more effective.
Second, be deliberate. Make it a point to let people know when you are thankful or appreciate something they have done. Acknowledge the value in their contribution, and do not fall victim to assuming people know you are thankful for things they do. Resist the temptation to avoid appreciation because people are just “doing what they are supposed to do.” If people do things which positively impact you, take the time to deliberately thank them for the difference they make.
Third, be specific. Appreciation which is not directly attributed to specific actions dilutes its value. For example, telling someone “‘thanks for being you” has less effect of making your appreciation known than telling them “thank you for the way you listened and offered suggestions.” Let people know specifically what you appreciate.
While any effort to show thanks and appreciation to each other is time well spent, making sure you are authentic in your message, deliberate about thanking those who impact you, and that you are specific about what you appreciate will provide the best path for ensuring people feel your gratitude.