As it appeared in the Daily Nation on November 22nd 2016
‘Thank You’ is a phrase used to express gratitude. We use the simple expression when we want to show our appreciation to someone. It is possibly one of the most widely used phrases globally. Many of us learnt the phrase among our very first words. In some cultures, it is a common phrase across all ages. It is part of daily conversation for millions of people. Unfortunately, for many other people and in many cultures, this phrase is rare and does not automatically fit into every conversation. The phrase remains core in the expression of gratitude in families, at the work place, in public and everywhere else.
We all like to be thanked, it makes us feel good. The question though is do we thank others enough? Every day we have many opportunities to say a sincere thank you and mean it. When someone holds the door or the lift for us, when a staff delivers a report or when the waiter brings our meal. When someone across the table passes the salt, when a neighbour offers a ride or a friend pays for the meal. When a child brings us some water, or a spouse serves us food or a manager gives a compliment. When we thank others, they feel appreciated, valued and important. It also increases their desire to be more helpful. Saying thank you strengthens the social glue. Sometimes these opportunities to say ‘Thank You’ pass unnoticed. This especially happens when we do not have an attitude of gratitude or when we choose to be ungrateful for whatever reason. I believe that a sense of entitlement especially makes us miss these opportunities.
In the world of business, the phrase has its important place. It is used during face-to-face conversations, over the phone and in written communication such as emails, letters and social media interactions. Many frontline staff often use the phrase in their effort to make the customers feel appreciated. In some organizations, the use of the phrase is well documented as a standard operating procedure. When facilitating training sessions, I bring out the importance of this phrase. However, many people seem to find it difficult to use the phrase at home, in the office and in public. I believe though that with an attitude of gratitude and practice we can get used to using the phrase.
Many studies show the power of thank you. Researchers Adam M. Grant of Wharton School and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School have carried out several studies on gratitude. One study shows a 50% increase of help offered because of appreciation. Another of their study shows a 50% increase in sales calls the week after a director of an organization personally thanked half the staff for their contribution to the company. However, a key study finding by the researchers shows that the workplace remains the least thankful place with only 15% of the people saying thank you at work. The study goes on to say that 35% of staff indicated that their managers never say thank you. The workplace therefore remains a place in need of increased expression of sincere gratitude.
How many people will we thank today? In the spirit of thanksgiving this Thursday, let use the phrase at every opportunity. Most importantly, let us teach the young ones the power of expressing gratitude. Thank you to all the regular readers of this column.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy