A colleague of mine was considering the best way to say “thanks” to a number of educators who had helped him with a professional learning opportunity he was putting together. He reached out to me with a question, “How Do I Say Thanks?”
I shared my thoughts and the ways in which I make determinations as to how best to say “Thank you.” And, in doing so, it gave me pause to consider the power of a simple acknowledgement, and also, the many ways in which we can provide a showing of gratitude.
For me, I most like to say “thanks” face-to-face, and often find that the structure of my role, and the way in which I work, prompts me to do so more regularly via written means. I love a hand-written note, and like to share gratitude in that way when I can. Often, I share gratitude through email.
But, for me, there is a bit of disconnectedness to email and its usage. We send emails so freely that a thank you via email means can seem like an afterthought or a way to simply “get gratitude off one’s plate.”
I’ve found that if I pair a “thanks” with more substantial content, it showcases time and effort going into gratitude. And if I can’t pick up the phone for a conversation or stop and see someone face-to-face, I at least feel like more substantial information sharing and more detail in my acknowledgment make it more meaningful for the receiver (an example of how I do this is by sending out detailed workshop evaluation summaries, with an acknowledgement built in, to our regional workshop consultants).
Saying “Thank you” is part doing our duty to recognize the work of others, and part validating for the receiver that their time spent was well worth it. While we don’t do good things for acknowledgement, and we can’t necessarily say “thanks” for every good deed done, we have to always remember that simple recognition of one’s contributions is often enough to help that person, or that group of people, feel part of the community, and that is key to successful growth of an organization (and of a person).
My colleague was appreciative of the information I shared, and I was happy that he now has further information to make the best decision for him on how to provide acknowledgement in this case. Recognizing others is not an exact science, but the one key we can never forget is that feeling good about our own contributions is part internal and part external. While we can control our own feelings about the work we do, we still rely on others to validate our work (this is important as we need multiple eyes to help us with perspective). So, we must make sure we never forget to help others see the tremendous work they have accomplished.
And sometimes, one word can do that.