The power of ‘thank you’

We’ve all had good bosses and bad bosses. Over the years, I’ve found that the best ones are those who take time on occasion to say two simple words: ‘thank you.’

As I’ve said before, at the deepest of levels everyone wants to be loved and appreciated. When you say ‘thank you’ to someone you are letting them know that, indeed, they have self-worth. Employees will stick around a lot longer, they’ll work harder and they’ll be exponentially more loyal if the phrase ‘thank you’ is said regularly. This sounds like it should be common sense, but for many organizations (even some that are perceived as being extremely successful), it is not.

My worst bosses over the years have been individuals who have viewed their employees as cattle. They used people to squeeze as much productivity out of them as possible, and when they were done with them they shrugged their shoulders and looked for the next piece of meat. Yes, if you demand a lot from employees you will probably a lot out of them  — until they quit — but the person who is treated with dignity and respect brings all sorts of intangibles to the table that ‘Worker No. 74562’ does not.

When I enjoyed working for someone, my hardest efforts seemed to flow naturally. I didn’t have to psyche myself up to do my job. I didn’t have to put my “work hat” on because it was essentially “on” all the time. I put in extra hours … simply because. I spent time trying to figure out ways to solve problems during my off hours … because I wanted to. I stuck around after the close of business to do little things that might not be noticed by my superiors, but that I knew would benefit the organization.

With that said, it should be noted that I do not expect people to be babied. Some employees expect to be praised simply for doing their job. That is the wrong answer and, truthfully, there are many people with such a warped perception of what their workplace environment should be.

On a deeper level, saying ‘thank you’ for all that you’ve been given is also very powerful. I suggest saying ‘thank you’ for something every day when you wake up and every day before you go to bed. Once you start — once you become conscious of just how much you have to be thankful for — the list will not stop. You’ll be amazed at just how much you’ve taken your life, your health, your family and friends for granted.

Just as you become a harder worker when you have a boss who says ‘thank you,’ you become a better person when you become thankful for the abundance in your life. Taking a quiet moment every day to acknowledge how thankful you are for a loving wife, a best friend or just a heart that beats will change you. As you become more thankful, you will be become more humble. When you become more humble, you treat those around you with more respect. When you respect yourself and others around you that respect will be returned in spades.

Think about how often you go through the day on autopilot. Eat, shower, shave, dress, drive to work with the radio on to avoid having to confront your own thoughts … work, work, work … and then head home for just long enough to eat and pass out. Turn the radio off on your drive to work and spend more time listening to the commentary in your own head. Evaluate it. Analyze it and, again, be thankful. You will be surprised at just how powerful those two words can be.

In keeping with the theme of this post I will lead by example: I am thankful every day for the friends I have met through this blog and other social media sites. There are individuals, young and old, who I have met online who have made me a better person. You have pushed and prodded me to think about many issues from new perspectives. You have creatively lifted me up when I was down. You have taught me that everyone — particularly those I disagree with the most — is worthy of respect.

Although I sometimes fall short of the lessons you have taught me over the years, I can confidently say that I am a better person for having been in contact with you. I am always striving to improve myself and for your part in helping to keep the ball rolling in the right direction I say it again: “thank you.”