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Thanking people

I may be a curmudgeon, but I also believe that it’s important to thank people for the work they do. Even when I’m sending a rant to someone, I’ll try my best to acknowledge the important difference I know that they make [1]. I’m not sure that the acknowledgments make a difference, particularly when I’m in full rant mode, but I consider it important to include them [2].

I also try to make sure to say Thank you at a lot of other times, because I really am thankful that the work people do. I say Thank you when I know that someone has gone beyond what is expected. I say Thank you when I know someone has had to deal with a troubling situation. And I say Thank you just because I find that I’m thankful.

I’ve never thought that the thank yous make much of a difference. But a few recent experiences suggest otherwise.

At a recent conference, I was talking to one of the leaders of the organization. I said something like I know that you get a lot of complaints. I just want you to know that you make an incredibly positive difference for our organization [3]. Thank you. [4] They seemed very surprised to hear a thank you. I don’t think they hear it much. They should.

In another meeting at the conference, someone brought up an email that I’d sent to them. I have no memory of what the email was about, but it was one in which I said something like I know that the work is hard; THANK YOU for taking on this important role. Why did they bring it up when we were chatting informally? Apparently, it made a difference.

A few weeks ago, I was at the Posse Plus Retreat. At our last sit-down meal, one of the Posse leaders stood up and said, Can we thank the servers for their hard work for us. And so we did. A bit later, one of the servers stopped by my table to say how much that meant; it seems that they work hard and rarely get acknowledged.

I’m glad that in all these cases, the thanks made a positive difference. But I’m also sad that it did, because it suggests that these people are not thanked nearly enough.

So, dear reader, I ask a favor of you. When you know that someone has made a positive difference to something you value … When you see someone taking on a difficult role … When someone’s work makes your experience better … Please take the time to acknowledge their contribution and say Thank you. But please mean it when you say it. So please also pay attention to the things that people around you do.


[1] In most cases, even when I think people make bad decisions, I respect the broader positive contributions they make.

[2] Admittedly, I don’t always include them when I’m in full rant mode.

[3] They do.

[4] I may also have interjected, You also have to deal with me and cover for my mistakes. I’m very thankful that this person does both things.

Version 1.0 of 2018-03-01.