The Power of ‘Assigning Praise’ (In Other Words, Say “Thanks”)

With the national holiday of ‘thank you’ just around the corner, it seemed an appropriate time to take a moment to consider the power of this simple phrase.

Thanks (pun intended) to a myriad of sources—from daytime TV to ancient texts– most of us are aware of the importance of taking time to be grateful for fundamental things: health, family, a place to live. And while we may not be grateful for the phrase “an attitude of gratitude” (Guilty as charged….) it is, nonetheless, something we try to cultivate.

Today, however, I wanted to talk about not only the importance—but the value—of thanking those around us for their daily contributions. Why?  Because this often gets lost. Sadly, it’s our nature to focus on what didn’t get accomplished rather than what did. Or, it’s our habit to think that our ‘thank you’ isn’t valued unless it comes with a gift attached.

This is a mistake. 

Should you doubt me, try this experiment. For the next few weeks, make a point of telling your colleagues (and/or your family) “Good job today—thanks.” What I think you will notice is that those around you stand a little taller, smile a bit more frequently, are quicker to contribute. 

You might also try this: send a few people an email with the subject line “Thank you”, and a note acknowledging their expertise or help. You are likely to be surprised by how quickly you receive a reply. 

Finally, you might begin a meeting by recognizing the work others have done in the past few weeks. It’s more than likely the remainder of the meeting will go more smoothly than usual. 

Why? Because the leader who “assigns praise” more frequently than assigning blame is the one for whom we are truly grateful.

With thanks to you for your time and attention,

Frances Cole Jones