Two Small Words That Make A Big Difference

There are hundreds if not thousands of words that are overused. Everyday, people use words like “best, worst, most, least, ugliest, smelliest, loudest, and coolest.” We often utilize punctuating phrases like “… in my life,” “ever,” and “I’ve ever seen.”

I doubt, however, that people actually experience these extremes as much as they claim. It is hard to believe that the tortellini your friend had for lunch was actually “the best pasta in the world,” even if she “wasn’t kidding.”

There are still other words that have slowly worked themselves out of our lists of common vocabulary. Sadly, the phrase “thank you” is one of them.

From youth, we are taught that it’s important to be polite. We all have our shining moments where we emulate this well.

More often than not, however, we get wrapped up in our busy lives: the piles of paperwork waiting to be finished, the stack of messages to return, the inordinately complex series of projects that certain clients wanted finished yesterday that they only told you about today. It all adds up, and the last thing on our mind is putting more onto our personal “to do” lists. We tend to forget the simplicity and humanity of these two simple words.

I’m sure there are countless stories out about how those words have changed peoples’ lives. Lois Geller of Mason & Geller Direct Marketing, LLC, shares the following account:

Mike McCormick, Mason & Geller’s creative director, and I stopped at a Denny’s Restaurant. We had 20 minutes to eat and be on time for a session [at a nearby conference].
We got our table and when Tim, our waiter, brought the food, he asked where I was from. We chatted, and I thanked him for the quick service. He asked for my business card. In the car, I called the Denny’s customer service number to tell the company about its great waiter. It was closed.
When I returned home, there was a handwritten thank-you note from Tim, the Denny’s waiter. I called Tim to ask why he’d written the note, and he said, “Because I want people to know they’re not just a dollar amount to me. I’ve written to many folks from London and Italy, and they come back and visit.”
Denny’s should thank its lucky stars it has an employee like Tim. Guess where we’ll have lunch next time we’re in that area? Tim, a waiter in a huge chain, is undertaking his own customer relationship campaign and doing a great job.

It would be naïve to think that everyone to whom you said “thank you” is going to be as appreciative as was Lois (or Tim for that matter). Honestly, most people won’t acknowledge the fact that you say it, but many will.

Sound dated? Consider the last time you received a thank-you note. I’m not referring to the gratuitous self-serving notes that are sales pitches in a thin veneer of appreciation. I’m talking about the ones that express genuine gratitude for the small stuff (and there is TONS of small stuff). You could send them to new clients for letting you work with them, existing clients for new projects they’ve given you, someone who makes a referral to your company, a colleague that inspired a great idea . . . . The list goes on and on. There are hundreds of people out there who will be surprised and impressed when they receive a thank-you card for something they might consider small or insignificant.

We all have habits we wish we could change—now is the time to start a good one.

Take the time to send at least one quick, hand-written, heartfelt thank-you note every day. You will not regret it. You may not see the results right away, but you will see them over time.

Your stock in human capital will rise.

Your network will expand.

People will remember you and retain a favorable impression of who you are and what you do.

And most importantly, you will know you are making a difference.