Practical Communication

4 Keys to a Meaningful "Thank You"

4 Keys to a Meaningful "Thank You"

Thanks for the kidneyUsually, when someone provides a service, favor, or courtesy, many return the courtesy with a “thanks.” Unfortunately, there are instances when thanks is not only insufficient, but can have the exact opposite intended effect. Instead of the recipient feeling appreciated, he or she may feel unappreciated, angry, and very unwilling to do anything to help us again.

“Thanks for passing the ketchup,” works.

“Hey Bob, thanks for the kidney,” seems to fall short.

 –From “Practical Communication: 25 Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Getting Along and Getting Things Done”

As Thanksgiving is just two days away, I was thinking about how infrequently we say “thank you” to those around us. For many families, it is tradition to give thanks during the Thanksgiving meal. Some even go around the table and ask everyone to state the things for which they are thankful. However, it’s not enough to just show appreciation on one day of the year. It’s important that we consistently let others know that we’re grateful for the things they do for us, for our employees, for our customers, and for our families.

You may be thinking, “I already do this, I say ‘thanks’ to others several times a day,” and you probably do. However, as the above excerpt from Practical Communication notes, a quick “thanks” given in passing is often inadequate and we could do a lot better.

A more complete and meaningful “thank you” is necessary for hard work, quality work, and of course, donated body parts. To show others appreciation that will make their day, follow these 4 Keys to a Meaningful “Thank You”.

1. Be timely– Say “thank you” on the spot. Don’t wait for a better time because you’ll probably forget.

2. Be specific– Tell the person exactly what he or she did that you appreciate.

3. Share the impact– Tell the person specifically what positive effect(s) his or her actions had on you, your family, your customers, etc.

4. Say “thank you”, not “thanks”– “Thanks” often comes across as flippant. “Thank you” is more complete. They even sound different when you say them. Don’t believe me, try it. Say “thanks” and then say “thank you”. You’ll probably notice that the latter sounds more sincere. Your voice, facial expressions, and body language will likely sound and look more thankful.

“Maria, I want to thank you for staying late to help me finish the year-end report. Your focus and attention to detail helped me ensure that the report was 100% accurate and your help allowed me to get the report to the boss on time. I truly appreciate your support.” 

And a final tip- Although a face-to-face “thank you” is best, it’s also a great idea to provide a “thank you” in writing for those who might need it for support of their performance appraisals. You could also copy their boss on a “thank you” email to ensure he or she knows about the great work the employee did.

It takes less than 30 seconds to make someone’s day with a meaningful “thank you”. Be sure to take every opportunity every day to say “thank you” to those around you.


 A special thank you to all of my blog readers for being such loyal followers. I love getting your feedback when you read something that helps you improve your communication, overcome challenges, and be more successful. That’s what has made writing this blog not only fun, but so rewarding for the past four years. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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