This blog is inspired by my sister, who told me a couple of weeks back, that she’d received a thank you reply to her ‘Thank You’ note to the writer Brandon Sanderson, who’d finished the popular Wheel of Time series in place of the late Robert Jordan – she’d been reading them since she was 14.
I’ll tell you about the note. It was short, it didn’t say much. It was amazing. It doesn’t matter that it took 6 months for him to reply, the very fact that he still replied tells you something. And he was right to, the impact wasn’t any less 6 months later. It is never too late to say thanks.
In the same week, one of my colleagues received two presents from candidates he worked with who were recently placed at our clients. They were grateful for his work. It doesn’t matter that he gets paid to do his job, the fact that they still felt such gratitude for his effort tells you something. Because it is never in someone’s job description to care.
Saying thank you is not something you have to do. After all, writers get paid to write and consultants have a job to place candidates. But it is a wonderful thing to do. And one of the few things in life, in which the giver is likely to receive more than the receiver. You are meeting eye to eye with another person, and what you are actually saying is that for the brief time that your worlds met, their impact exceeded expectation, and you want to go out of your way, to let them to know of your gratitude.
Recently I’ve been taken by surprise by just how many people can’t write ‘Hi’ at the start of an email conversation anymore. It’s two letters. And it stops you from sounding like you are shouting at the other person. Because that’s the only other context in the world that you would just say someone’s name out of the blue like that.
One of my Dutch clients recently told me how it took him a while to ‘get’ working with the English. Because in the Netherlands you always reply to a personal email, even if it is just to say ‘no thanks.’ In the UK it’s much easier; you just don’t bother to reply at all. What about being well-raised? I thought we were proud of being a civilised nation? Why has it become so acceptable, and in fact commercially-acceptable, to treat others disrespectfully? What? Just because they are not paying you? Now I am not suggesting we should reply to every email, it’s impossible. (today 238 are still unread..). But shouldn’t we still try to treat one another well, nonetheless?
Manners are free. They indicate a good upbringing and they show a level of sophistication that you simply cannot achieve without them. Try doing business like that for a week, and see how far you get. So then, why reserve them only for your client? Use them all the time. Liberally! Then watch what happens. Watch how your interaction with people makes them shine, which makes you shine brighter. Yes I know you know, it will come back to you… And it certainly will, but I am saying this because it actually stands a chance of making you happier. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Since arriving in Luxembourg I greet my colleagues with 3 light pecks on the cheek. It takes 2 seconds, and just allows a brief contact with the other person. With whom you will spend the next 8+ hours of this day, going through various stressful times together. This is a contrast with my first job in the City of London where people don’t even look at you when they arrive at the office in the morning. What? Your static emails, which won’t even know you have read them, are more important than acknowledging the presence of your colleague who might help you out today? Let’s stop pretending that we don’t need each other. Successful business does not operate via an Island, alone, without any lights on in the lighthouse. Switch those lights on. Make the connection.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m an impatient, commercially-aware person, who is normally trying to do at least 5 things at the same time, and failing at least 2 of them. It’s just that sometimes by slowing down a tiny bit you achieve much more. And guess what? You and everyone around you are much happier. It’s a much more pleasant way of living life, doing business, and acknowledging thanks for being in the presence of others. Because the alternative, is fighting on your own.
It is never too late to say thank you.