I like Chick-fil-A. But I'm not a fan of how every employee says "my pleasure" when I say "thank you." 

Granted, "my pleasure" switches up the standard "you're welcome," but since every employee has been told to use the phrase, "my pleasure" still comes across more formulaic than sincere.

Unfortunately, the same thing can happen when I say "thank you." 

"Thanks" can seem even more reflexive and automatic, especially because I sometimes say "thanks" even when I'm not particularly thankful or appreciative.

After all, "thank you" is what we're supposed to say. And that means it it doesn't make much of an impact on the person we thank.

So what two words are more powerful?

"I'm grateful."

Francisco Gino and Adam Grant conducted an experiment where one group of volunteer fundraisers received no expression of gratitude; the other group of volunteers was told, "I'm very grateful for your hard work."

The immediate result was the "grateful" volunteers made 50 percent more calls to potential fundraisers. 

Clearly, that's an important result where motivation and output is concerned (in short, if your only goal is to improve productivity, "I'm grateful" is an effective tool), but just as important, the researchers found that saying "I'm grateful" can help people:

  • savor positive experiences,
  • cope with stressful circumstances, and
  • strengthen relationships.

This makes "I'm grateful" two surprisingly powerful words.

The Power of Praise

Think about what happens when you receive sincere praise.

Genuine recognition rewards effort and accomplishment, reinforces positive behaviors, builds self-esteem and confidence, and boosts motivation and enthusiasm. You feel better about your effort.

You feel better about yourself.

The same thing happens when you offer genuine praise: Praise that isn't rote, isn't automatic, and isn't reflexive -- praise that isn't simply what you're supposed to say but reflects what you actually feel -- makes a real difference in the other person's life.

Which leaves you feeling a little better about yourself as well -- because it always feels good to know you made a difference in someone else's life. 

Try it. Instead of saying, "Thanks for staying late to get that done," say you're grateful -- and say why. Say, "I am so grateful you volunteered to stay late yesterday. You saved me from having to call the customer to say we were going to miss the deadline."

Generic praise is nice, but specific praise is wonderful. Don't just tell an employee she did a good job. Tell her how she did a good job.

Not only will she appreciate the gesture, she'll also know you pay attention to what she does.

Especially when you say you're grateful.

Published on: Feb 11, 2019
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