It’s very disheartening to see a decline in the use of “thank you” by so many. When I hold doors open for people, I almost never hear a thank you. I go out for lunch or dinner quite frequently, and I tip well, but thank you seems to have found a place on the endangered species list. When I go shopping and buy something, I rarely hear a thank you any more.
For a while, I thought it was just me, being overly sensitive. But then I was watching The Late Show with David Letterman and heard about a man who went into a store looking for an item. He found no one to help. The clerks were disinterested at best, rude at worst. After much searching, he finally found the item himself. At the checkout counter he found a long line of people and a clerk who definitely worked only at her own speed. Finally he paid for his item, and the clerk threw it into a plastic bag and shoved his change at him.
The man had to say something, so he asked the cashier, “Can’t you even say thank you?”
And the cashier said, “It’s printed on your receipt.”
One of my faithful readers recently emailed me that he has saved a column I wrote on the topic 10 years ago, and uses it at his company’s monthly training meetings. He writes: “We are a society that no longer embraces these simple, yet powerful words and what they stand for. What astonishes me is that this is not generation specific. I grew up with please and thank you driven hard into me, and I am grateful for that today. Thank you Mom and Dad! I used to hear these valued words a lot. Today, little.” Thank you, Wayne Shimer, for your insight.
It takes only two words to say, “Thank you.” It takes only one word to say, “Please.” It’s so easy to say thank you, and it can have such a powerful impact.
As many of you may know, I am a big fan of creativity. Here are a couple ways I’ve used to say thank you creatively.
A great time to be imaginative is when you’ve landed a new customer and want to show your appreciation. Forget the standard letter from the CEO. Why not try what we sometimes do at Encouragement-Wired? Within 24 hours of receiving an order, we will arrange delivery of a banner saying “Thank You” in 15 different languages. Believe me, that makes it to the bulletin board, opposed to a boilerplate letter that ends up in the trash.
Do you know who else has mastered the Art of the Thank You? The Girl Scouts. First off, these gals are one smart troop of marketers. As of 2007, all types of Girl Scout Cookies are proudly trans-fat free. All of them are also certified kosher. Who can resist Girl Scout cookies?
When a precious set of twins, Anna and Grace, came to me to sell cookies, they were especially excited about a new variety, Thanks-A-Lot shortbread cookies sinfully dipped in fudge. Embossed on them are the words “Thank You”—and not just in English, mind you. But in five different languages: English, French, Chinese, Swahili and Spanish.
Anna and Grace were thrilled when I bought a case of these cookies as a way to say thank you to people who do nice things for me. They thanked me several times. Then I got a follow-up thank you email from these enterprising first graders. And another big thank you when the cookies were delivered a few weeks later.
By the way, everyone who has received a box from me has said thank you too!
Speaking of saying thanks, there is a movement making efforts to thank our military veterans that is so simple. Go to http://www.gratitudecampaign.org and take advantage of the opportunities to thank these heroes. Veterans Day was just a few days ago, but it is never too late to say “Thank you” to those who give so much of themselves for the rest of us.
I returned some time ago from Beijing, China, and the Summer Olympic Games. You can surely tell that the Chinese government wanted its people—from cab drivers to waiters to everyone in service businesses—to display terrific manners to the world. In fact, “thank you” was one of the five English phrases all Beijing residents were encouraged to learn before the Olympics. Their image to the world was extremely important. And it doesn’t hurt tourism either.
Make it a point every day to have an attitude of gratitude. It will change your life.