The Power of Saying Thank You

Personal coach Laura Trice raises an important point about how powerful receiving praise and being told thank you really is.    In my view, most of us bosses are stingy with our giving of thanks and praise, which is completely irrational considering how little it “costs” and how much good it can do.  Scientists say that when we are being thanked and admired, the body produces endorphins (the same hormone we get when eating chocolate).

Trice also observes not only are we sparse in our delivering of it, many of us are uncomfortable with (even incapable of receiving) praise.   She describes how many people, including her, go to the point of shutting it down.  Not only do many of us shut down the praise and admiration when it is being heaped upon us, but in her case, she recalls many times when she wanted to thank or express admiration of another person, but stopped herself.   Whether it was out of a sense of feeling embarrassed, awkward, or being unsure how another might react, she willfully censored herself.  This too seems completely irrational given that we all need and relish it, and it can actually feel good ourselves when doing something that makes someone else feel good.

So why is that?  Why do humans so glaringly deny themselves something that could bring so much pleasure, and do so much to enhance our sense of self-worth?

We were conducting a leadership program with a group of high level executives at a client organization recently.  All of the participants were undoubtedly successful, had healthy egos, and probably a good sense of personal value.   One exercise we had wanted to do at the end of our session was to invite them to stand up and publicly praise one of the team colleagues for something they noticed that impressed them since the start of the program.  We had a conversation about our plan with an HR executive who thought about it for a moment and said “you’d better not. . . I don’t think they are ready for that kind of experience.”

Wow, what an interesting revelation that our culture can sometimes make us so uncomfortable with such a simple, genuine, and human act.

So why is that?   Why can’t we ask for it openly – letting others know we appreciate being appreciated?   Why are we so afraid to initiate it either privately, one-on-one, or in a public group?     Maybe it needs to start with us.

So here goes.  I deeply appreciate those at Xavier who have encouraged me to write this blog, and for those who have reached out to make a positive comment.   I would also like to thank you readers for caring about your personal development, and willingness to share some of your insights publicly on our Xavier Leadership Center Linked-In group.  You surpass many others by the sheer fact that you are engaged.     There . . . that wasn’t too hard to write.    I think I have some more things to say tonight when I get home.   Maybe you do too.

In this deceptively simple 3-minute talk, Dr. Laura Trice muses on the power of the magic words “thank you” — to deepen a friendship, to repair a bond, to make sure another person knows what they mean to you.

Try it.  It is probably the one thing you can do that yields the highest return on investment.


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Filed under Leading, Managing Teams

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