Why You Can Never Say Thank You Enough

When I was a teenager, I played for a Junior Olympic baseball team one summer. (Yes, I used to be athletic and agile. I could actually run a mile without dying. Now I just sit in a chair all week. Those were the days.)

Anyway, I remember this one day when a scout came over and chatted with our team for a while. He gave us a little pep talk, and then said, “If you only remember one thing, remember this: you can never say thank you enough.”

He went on to say that looking someone in the eye and saying the words “thank you” would be the difference-maker between being chosen by a scout, or not.

“When you get the opportunity to show someone your skills, be grateful for their attention.” I remember those words so clearly, and they’ve stuck with me over the years.

Thanking the people that give you their attention is powerful beyond the baseball field. I truly believe it’s a must in the workplace.

I’ve written before about creating a culture of gratitude in the office, but I want to touch on the topic again, this time with a focus beyond a brick-and-mortar workplace, because it’s so key.

You can never say “thank you” enough. In many ways, it’s a forgotten art–and because of that, it can be a major differentiator.

Study after study shows that thanking a person for their efforts, no matter how small or seemingly simple, has an effect on the recipient of the gratitude. A Harvard study on “the power of thanks” called this “the gratitude effect.” Harvard researcher and professor Francesca Gino wrote that “receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too.”

Case studies over and over prove that people are more likely to act kindly again if thanked the first time.

That’s powerful stuff. It surely taps into our core needs as humans to feel acknowledged and validated. If I know you see my efforts and affirm them the first time, I’ll probably help you out again. It’s a simple relational principle that influences so much, if only we’d think about it more.

And a quick note: the point of saying “thank you” is never to just get something. We don’t say words of gratitude simply for gain. We say them because it’s an authentic way to acknowledge and affirm another human being. (But the added personal and professional benefits certainly don’t hurt either…)

You can never go wrong saying “thank you.”

Here are five ways that I’ve found to be key in making a “thank you” memorable and powerful.

Make eye contact. The scout said this in my high school years, and I’ve taken it seriously ever since. Eye contact is central to the human experience and is proven to make words more memorable. It’s body language that acknowledges and affirms. More and more, eye contact is a lost art as our interactions happen screen to screen. It makes the experience of strong face to face relationship all the more valuable. Look people in the eye when you say “thank you.”

Say the person’s name when you thank them. We’ve all heard it before, but I want to emphasize this practice again because I’ve really seen the difference it makes. A person’s name is the most powerful link to their identity. To say it often in a conversation, particularly with a “thank you,” is to acknowledge and honor them–and inevitably grab their attention. As Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Consider your buyers. We spend a ton of time with clients talking about their thank you pages. The copy, the design, whether there are social shares options or an image… Why? Because the thank you matters. To nurture a prospective consumer all the way to a sale and then just go silent is the worst way to build a brand relationship. Consider your buyers, and show authentic gratitude. Say you appreciate them. It’s the only way to keep them coming back.

Thank your buyers. The brand relationship doesn't end with the sale. Click To Tweet

Go the extra mile (offline!). In today’s digital world, there are a million quick ways we can say thank you. We tweet it, text it, email it. It takes two seconds. The more time we spend on a screen, the more powerful an off-screen thank you becomes. So send a note. Written with a pen. On a piece of paper. (Does anyone even know what those things are anymore?) It demonstrates thoughtful effort, and the “touch” factor will up the memorability.

If you’re an author, state your gratitude. Working within a marketing or editorial department at a publishing house is often a thankless job. These folks generally have too much work and not enough time. I often (all the time!) experienced authors complaining to my marketing staff far more than saying “thank you.” It’s disheartening to serve someone who says you’re never good enough, so for those staff, the authors who said “thank you” were generally the preferred authors–the ones who got their time and attention.

There are plenty of things you can overdo. But you can’t overdo the “thank you.” Say if often. You’ll reap immense benefits, personally and professionally.