April 5, 2012

Saying Thank You is a Big Deal!

In life it is the little things that matter. The little things that make a difference in whether you are going to be successful or if you are going to fail. A smile, a kind word, or showing up on time, all make an impression.

People are wired to make judgments in a nano-second. It is called perception and it refers to an intuitive process of recognition. How others perceive you is not necessarily a conscious or controlled process. It happens automatically without thought.

Saying thank you is one of those little things that gets you noticed. It is such a small thing - just two tiny little words. Yet they are some of the most powerful words you can use. They express so much more than that. They say - I appreciate what you have done; I appreciate your work, your help, your thoughts, or your efforts.

Saying thank you is so important that you will find thank you in every language. Even in the same language you will find more than one word that means thank you.

It is hard to estimate the value of saying thank you. There is nothing tangible about it. It is a very simple thing that is often overlooked.

We may hate the time spent by all of Academy Award winning actors and actresses thanking everyone including their mother for their success but it is a recognition that they could not have gotten there without help.

When you say thank you it doesn't cost you anything. It is intangible. It doesn't shake the earth ... there is nothing to drive away in... nothing to dial a call with... Yet the mere saying of the words has an incalculable value. It creates enormous good will. If you want someone to have a positive perception of you, say thank you.

Said in the right way, a genuine thank you can be carried in someone's heart for the rest of his or her life. Say it in writing and your message of thank you will be read and reread by the recipient for years to come. Talk about reinforcing the positive image!

I have received a lot of really nice thank you letters in my 38 years of career counseling. People frequently send a letter or a hand written note thanking me for making a difference in their lives. I am blessed to be able to help people at a very special juncture in life... when they are starting or changing careers - becoming who they will be next.

I cherish those letters - I still have all of them! I remember each person and their circumstances. People say the most amazing things that remind me that I make a difference.

In the job search scheme of things, a thank you is an essential tool that gets you noticed. A well-written thank you creates an exponential amount of good will. You will stand out in the crowd because so few people actually send a thank you note.

One former student sent a thank you letter after an interview, even though he knew he had not gotten the job. When the company's first choice candidate didn't work out, that student who sent the thank you got the job. He credits the thank you letter for his success. He was competing with a number of really well qualified people, but he got the job.

I remember my first interview for a career counselor position. I got a thank you letter from one of the members of the selection committee for my thank you letter. He told me he was impressed by my thoughtfulness. I got the job.

When people write thank you letters, they are remembered. It reinforces what they said at the job fair or in the job interview. It shows a number of things. It shows that they can write, that they know proper protocol, and that they are thoughtful individuals.

Here are some of the situations you might want to consider thanking people for:

  • Write a note thanking a good professor for a great lecture or a great class (you will need their recommendation - so you want to be remembered)
  • Thank the wait staff at a restaurant during your interview lunch
  • Thank all of the interviewers who interview you
  • Thank your parents for the countless sacrifices they have made for you

Imagine yourself an Academy Award winner. Who do you want to thank for getting you where you are? People will appreciate the thoughtfulness. Do it well, and do it in writing, and you have a friend or colleague who remembers you for life.