The Power of One Small Word

There is a little word that goes a long way. Do you know what it is?

When people say this word, it creates a better workplace right away. When people use this word, they get others to want to help them more and to appreciate them more. What is this magic word? It is “thanks.”

thanks

In many workplaces it is easy to forget to say “thanks.” People are busy and we expect that everyone in a workplace should just do the work they are paid to do. We expect that when we ask another person to do something, it is like an extension of ourselves: “Get this back to me by 3;” “Check this for typos;” “Call him right away.” We don’t say thanks to ourselves, so why should we thank our co-workers who are simply doing their jobs? The expectation is that you do the work. Just get it done.

But people do better when they get support. When people in a workplace take the time to say “thanks” to each other and appreciate the efforts of others, it creates a collaborative and supportive culture.

When I worked as an Assistant US Attorney in Chicago in the 1980s, I had an experience that underscored this idea. After a relatively short trial I had prepared and presented to the jury, the jury came back remarkably fast with the verdict we were seeking. It was a victory. The trial was over! We won. But I felt I hardly had time to celebrate, because I had so many other cases that needed attention, all of which were put on hold while I was working on this trial. I got back to my office dreading the thought of all that backlogged work.

When I sat down I was surprised to see a handwritten note on top of the files littering my desktop. The note was from Dan Webb, who was the US Attorney at the time. “I heard your jury came back in an hour and a half. Good job!” After that, I felt energized and ready to work all hours of the day or night prepping my cases. Recognition goes a long way. “Thank you” goes a long way.

There is a power in being truly and authentically thankful for the work that others do. We all rely on each other to get the work of the day accomplished. When we thank each other, express appreciation and are grateful, we empower our workplace and create more energy and productivity. What goes around comes around. Everyone benefits.