Saying Thank You

Saying thank you.

Why are we so reluctant to say “thank you” to someone else for their work, especially work that we paid for? Is it possible that paying for something seems to be enough, so thanks are neither needed nor wanted?

I work with a wide variety of professionals, and a common thread is emerging that bothers me. I’m hearing stories about clients’ apparent lack of appreciation at the outcomes some pros have worked so hard to produce.

This usually applies to those who provide a service, not a tangible item. We don’t sell shoes or homes or appliances; we sell an ability that gives our clients the results they asked for.

For me, it’s easy enough: Copyediting, by its very nature, is visible. My clients all know exactly what I did because they get the marked-up copy and the final usable copy of whatever they sent me.

It can be far harder for other professionals, though, who can’t show the exact work they did to produce the results. This type of work is almost completely invisible, a little like what went on behind the curtain at Oz … but with no trickery. We don’t have a genie in a bottle or behind a curtain that can produce miracles with a snap of its finger or the push of a button.

Success in these cases relies on an expert’s experience, connections, and knowledge, and the ability to pull all those things together for a desired outcome.

Sometimes it takes multiple phone calls to persuade our connections to help, or to even find the right connection for a special job. Many emails, texts, entreaties. Conference calls. Skype and/or Zoom meetings. More than a few sleepless nights. We may feel like a ringmaster, with different people and activities swirling around, cracking the whip to make sure that everything comes together as we envisioned it.

Even more important, as our client envisioned it.

And yes. We know we’re getting paid to create a specific result, no matter how difficult it may be. And no. We don’t expect balloons or flowers or planes flying overhead trailing banners exclaiming how magnificent we are. (Although …)

But trust me: It’s fine – better than fine – to hear someone say thanks occasionally. It’s a simple thing that usually spurs us to be even better, even faster, even … whatever. Money is certainly an important measure of value, but we humans also really appreciate being appreciated.

Where does this all come from? From a story I heard a long time back, and from Maya Angelou’s words, which have guided me for years:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.

At the end of the day, how do you want others to feel about you, no matter the relationship? I believe saying thank you will always help others see us in a good light, and isn’t that what we want?