“The simple act of saying ‘thank you’ is a demonstration of gratitude in response to an experience that was meaningful to a customer or citizen.” – Simon Mainwaring
I witnessed an exchange not so long ago where two individuals were engaged in a hard-fought battle. There was tension on both sides as each individual was trying to defeat the other in a competitive arena. Prior to the finish and resolution, one of the individuals told the other that he appreciated the work that this person had been doing and really felt that it was an honor to be involved in this exchange with one another. The other person replied back tersely, “That’s my job. I am just doing my job. No need to thank me.” Bewildered and a little confused, the complimenting individual presented a brief justification for his remarks, which was deflected once more and not well received.
As I thought more about this exchange, I began to recall multiple other occasions where I had offered a compliment only to have it deflected or did not receive a compliment well myself. Oftentimes, these explanations involve us trying to detract merit from the accomplishment or praise as if it was not really an accomplishment at all.
Why do we devalue our accomplishments or service when someone is seeking to appreciate us for them? Why do we fail to accept the gratitude of another person for a job well done? Why is it so hard for us to say ‘thank you’?
My grandfather passed along a saying to my mother who passed it along to me. He would always give her advice on a litany of things as fathers do, but when he offered her compliments on the good job she was doing in raising us, she would say things about how she was not so sure or she hoped she was or she was doing the best she can. My grandfather would look her squarely in the eye and say, “Just say thank you and shut up.”
In our family at one time or another, we have all used this phrase with one another. It is a simple reminder to show gratitude for the compliments we receive. It is a reminder to let the other person know that we were giving them an affirmation for the wonderful things that he or she is doing. It is a reminder not to devalue ourselves or our achievements, but to accept the praise then be quiet. No gloating, no boasting. Just thank you and shut up.
We do many things throughout our life that are meaningful for others. We may not realize it, but that is where it is crucial that we take the time to deliver the praise for those who earn it as I wrote about on Wednesday so that we are able to realize the impact of our actions. In turn, when someone recognizes us for that positive impact or quality service, it is incumbent upon us to be grateful for their appreciation of our work. It may not have seemed like much to us, but it meant a lot to them. If we shoot them down, we may prevent them from sharing future praise with someone else, and greatly reduce the risk that people will share praise about us.
Our response should be simple and not an elaboration of self-serving justifications and explanations about why we did it. But, our response should be something.
Just say thank you and shut up!
Bring your best today!