The power of ‘thank you’ is a key asset when it comes to successful communication skills.
It was certainly evident last Sunday evening.
I shouted at my TV screen:
“Thank the fans Shane.
“Please, thank the fans.
Just say it.”
As Irishman Shane Lowry held golf’s Open Championship claret jug aloft.
And then, he said it:
“Last but not least.
“The volunteers and all the fans.
“Thank you so much.”
And now I knew they would appreciate him wherever he went in the world.
Four words that mean the difference between happiness and resentment.
Yet still much under-used in the work place.
Want the office to have a more harmonious atmosphere?
Want your team to know how much you appreciate them?
And want your partner to feel good about a small act of kindness?
The Open had returned to Ireland for the first time in 68 years.
It sold out in advance for the first time ever.
And they flocked from across the island to see the best golfers in the world.
But when an Irishman walked on to the tee, he was met with a deafening roar.
Whether from the north or the south.
So when Lowry hit the front and held his place to the end, Ireland went nuts.
The fans roared him on through triumph and setback alike.
And now they needed to be recognised.
Shane paid an emotional tribute to his parents:
“My mum and dad sacrificed so much when I was younger.
And I’m so happy I can hand them this trophy tonight.”
(I trust somebody told him he only gets a replica to keep.)
The power of thank you is underestimated.
Because gratitude is one of the greatest attributes in successful people.
It’s sadly lacking in many others.
But it’s easy to build an attitude of gratitude into everything we do in business and at home.
It starts with saying “thank you”.
Almost every business email I write starts:
“Many thanks for getting back to me…”
“Thank you for your time on the phone today…”
“Thank you for meeting me this morning…”
It sets the tone of gratitude for someone taking interest in what I have to offer.
You can start by getting straight into business with what lies ahead.
Or you can start by thanking people for what they’ve done.
I remember many years ago meeting Lord Macfarlane, then chairman of what’s now the global drinks company Diageo.
He was hosting a meeting in Edinburgh.
He addressed every one of the 20 people round his boardroom table.
And thanked them for their recent contribution.
I felt a million dollars after the heart-felt words he saved for me.
Often we expect our work to go unsung.
But when it’s highlighted, we feel great.
The same rule applies when ending a presentation or media interview.
And it’s a point we make on media training and presentation skills courses across the world.
Always end your interview or presentation with a thank you.
It recognises the part the interviewer played.
And it recognises the time the audience has spent listening to you.
The bigger the audience, the bigger the opportunity.
To recognise people publicly.
In a US-based business I’m involved in, recognition is everything.
They recognise you on stage in front of 16,000 for your achievements.
And people rise to their feet, cheering and applauding.
We’ve brought that culture back to the UK.
And have put recognition at the centre of everything.
With spectacular results.
In Scotland, I’ve contributed to Scotmid’s conferences for some years
And Chief Executive John Brodie always finishes by thanking every employee for their work in the past year.
Regardless of what the balance sheet shows.
But have you ever held a coffee shop door open?
Only for the person to breeze past without eye contact or a “thanks”?
So how do you feel?
Happy or resentful?
Wishing you’d gone through first.
Even in his frail last years, my dad always held the door open.
And said “good morning” as a stranger walked through.
Which is one reason he was much-loved.
One reason I believe people fail to say thanks is low confidence.
If we lack confidence, how can we give some away by showing gratitude?
Which is why I often added “it was my pleasure” as strangers brush past.
(I know I should grow up.)
So thank your partner for making the bed.
Thank your kids for tidying up.
Thank your friends for the help they offered you.
Thank your colleagues for making your job easier.
Thank your team for their contribution, regardless of the result.
And thank the fans who roared you round Royal Portrush.
Because they appreciate the recognition.
And they’ll support you through thick and thin next time round.
Well done Shane Lowry on winning the Open and recognising the fans.
And thanks for taking the time to read this.
Bill McFarlan is co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.
You can read his full profile here.
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