Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Use the Magic Words

This post is part of a series on how to improve morale (and the bottom line) in your company at little or no cost.

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” 
-Gladys B. Stern

The simple act of saying “please” and “thank you” is drilled into children by parents and teachers asking, “What is the magic word?”  Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, we forget the power of these magic words.

“It is respectful to make requests rather than demands, to show gratitude and appreciation…”⁠1  Demanding something from an employee (“Go do that”), as opposed to asking nicely (“Would you do that, please”) is the difference between encountering immediate resistance and finding a willingness to do something.  Every request for action, information or assistance should be accompanied by the word “please.”  

The word please conveys both respect and consideration of the other person’s time and effort for which you are asking.  It’s a simple word that builds relationships.
Thanking an employee acknowledges that you appreciate them and value and what they do, rather than taking them for granted.  Expressing thanks is a profitable business strategy as appreciation increases employee productivity and raises your margins.⁠2

When you say thank you to an employee, be specific about your thanks.  When you attach a specific reason for saying thank you (“Thank you for coming in early to finish that quarterly report”), your employee is more likely to remember being thanked and retain that feeling of gratitude.

Occasionally, take the time to handwrite a thank you note.  Putting a thank you in writing stands out in today’s world of electronic communication.  The permanence of a handwritten thank you note will be remembered long after a verbalized or emailed thank you is forgotten.  Tom Peters said, “People don’t forget kindness.”

Be prompt and spontaneous with your thanks.  Don’t save it for later.  Your employee will have already assumed that you didn’t care what they did and will simply see a thanks coming days or weeks later as you sucking up, trying to get them to do something else for you.

Be sincere in saying the magic words.  Using either please or thank you sarcastically or without meaning it doesn’t you any good.  Your employees are smarter than that and can tell when your not being honest with with your gratitude.


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