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Giving Thanks to our Colleagues

By Beatrice Lanzi

It’s Thanksgiving month! That time of year when giving thanks takes center stage. And, I have to admit, I like it. I like the idea of giving thanks, expressing appreciation- for several reasons.

First, it’s easy. Second, it’s free. Third, it’s important. Actually, it’s really, really important.

So, I wonder why something so important, yet as easy as saying thank you or extending a kind gesture of appreciation is not done more often. Sure, I know we’re all busy. Most of our days are filled with difficult conversations, problems to fix and maybe even a crisis or two. We’re often overwhelmed and exhausted.

But that’s exactly why we should incorporate appreciation into our personal and professional interactions. It just makes the day better. When we get stressed or feel a bit discouraged, yes it happens sometimes, we can grab a cup of coffee for energy. We can seek out a chocolate bar. Or, how about we reach into our positive communication toolbox and inspire some energy and enthusiasm- with – you guessed it- appreciation.

Yeah, I know- it sounds too simple. And it is. A few words or a gesture of appreciation are some of the best tools we have to build a positive communication climate where enthusiasm and inspiration grow. This is especially important in business where our professional relationships are at the core of every business endeavor we pursue.

When the communication climate is negative, feelings of distrust and fear grow. They can dampen any team’s spirits and discourage even the best of us. When the communication climate is positive, relationships thrive and grow because there’s a foundation of trust and respect that encourage cooperation and open dialogue.

Early in my career, I worked with a woman who used to make it a habit to publicly recognize the efforts of her team members. She would thank us and acknowledge our contributions at meetings, in front of the big boss. It was powerful. We felt valued and appreciated.

When someone says “thank you for your input today”, “thank you for your extra work on that project”, “thank you for following up on that lead”, it’s pretty awesome. We feel valued and appreciated.

And, let’s not forget about the often overlooked thank you note. In a world of emails and instant messages, I don’t think there’s anything better than a personal, handwritten note of thanks from a colleague. It doesn’t matter if the handwriting is unreadable because the message – you are appreciated – is clear.

Every gesture of appreciation is meaningful when it’s sincere. It can change an entire day. When I’m writing a thank you note, or lucky enough to receive one, I feel inspired. A stressful day becomes manageable. I suddenly don’t need that afternoon chocolate bar. Well, I don’t need it, but…