Four Ways to Make Your THANKS More Powerful and Effective

Four Ways to Make Your THANKS More Powerful and Effective

November is National Thankfulness Month.  It is the month we focus on being grateful and is celebrated nationally on Thanksgiving.  Gratitude is a powerful transforming practice both for us and for others.  Being thankful takes our eyes off ourselves and acknowledges the value of others.  Whether you are giving thanks to God or to the people in your life, giving thanks can change your own life and others.

Have you ever taken a class on how to thank others?  Your answer is probably “no”.  Isn’t enough simply to say, “thank you”?  What if I tell you that how you say thank you to someone may determine whether a person truly receives your thanks and appreciates the feeling behind your words?  Not everyone wants to be thanked the same way or for the same things.  If you can learn more about how to give thanks, it will make a difference in their lives and yours. 

William Arthur Ward said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”  Saying thank you shifts your attitude from yourself to others.  So much of the time we are focused on ourselves – our goals and our problems.  We miss the opportunities to acknowledge the value of others and our community.  Even if we feel gratitude in our hearts, we often fail to express it effectively, so it lands with any impact.  Ward also penned these words, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”  This post is designed to help you deliver your words of thanksgiving for others more powerfully and effectively. 

Before I explain how we can more effectively give thanks to others, let us consider how doing so will have a positive impact.  We are already mentioned that thanking others takes the focus off ourselves.  This builds community and team. Celebrating the contributions of other people validates what they bring to the table.  They are more likely to work together more effectively and with less conflict.  We begin to create a culture of cooperation and value rather than competitiveness.  When we thank people, we motivate them as well.  We all want to make a contribution that matters.  When we give thanks well, people know why they matter, and they are motivated to contribute more and work harder.  The opposite is true as well.  When we fail to give thanks well, people tend to lose motivation.  Giving thanks to others also encourages people.  I cannot think of a better way of encouraging someone than helping them understand how much they are appreciated.  Celebrating the value of other people brings joy to everyone. 

Here are four ways you can become more effective and powerful in your giving of thanks to others

  1. Connect your words of thanks to what is most important to them

Before you offer words of thanks, consider what is most important to that person.  You want your words of thanks to hit their heart motivation – why they do what they do.  Corestrengths teaches us that we all do things for different reasons (Motivational Value System – MVS).  Some are motivated by People, others, by Performance, and still others by Process.  If a person is motivated primarily by helping People, you would want to express your words of thanks around how their contribution helped people.  Here is an example, “Thank you for helping with the project.  Your contribution enabled us to change the lives of 100 people and made their lives better.  You also took a big burden off my shoulders and I greatly appreciate all that you did.” 

If the person you are thanking is more motivated by Performance, you would state your thanks much differently, even though they did the exact same thing.  You might say something like this, “Thank you for helping with the project.  Your contribution enabled our team to gain a huge win and it opened more opportunities for the future.  Thank you for pushing through the obstacles and making this happen.”  The focus of your words would change from how their contribution impacted people and moved them to focus on results.  In the example you will see that I also focused on pushing through the obstacles, because those who are motivated by Performance love pushing through difficult challenges.  Those kinds of words hit the heart – what is most important to them. 

If the person were motivated more by Process, effectiveness in communicating thanks would shift to something like this, “Thank you for your help.  Your thorough and accurate analysis of the problem enabled us to serve those people well.  I don’t know where we would be without your expertise.”  The words of thanks would focus on things they value.  Process people want to do things well, accurately, and precise. If you desire your words of thanks to hit home, you want to acknowledge those aspects of their contribution. 

Before you speak words of thanks, be sure to consider what is most important to them.  Connecting your words to their motivations will strengthen the power of giving thanks. 

2. Be specific, not general

If your words of thanks are general, your words might not hit the sweat spot.  Most people give thanks this way, “Thank you.”  What does that mean?  What are you thankful about?  What is it that I did that you valued?  If you can give it a little more thought before you deliver the thanks, you can include more detail about why you are saying it.  In the example above to the People motivated person, we might add some details about what they did that helped the most, “You took care of all the little details so well, like the coffee and the decorations.  I was impressed by your attention to these details.  Thank you.”  Now your thanks have included their motivation as well as letting them know you noticed what they did. General words of thanks are good.  Specific words are even better.  People should not need to guess what you are thankful for.  By stating the specifics, you are showing them that you have thought about this and it really matters to you. 

3.  Deliver it the way they would appreciate it the most

Not everyone likes to receive thanks the same way.  Here again, knowing how people are motivated (People, Performance, Process) will help you.  Those who are People oriented do not like to be singled out publicly.  If you thank them publicly, be sure to thank everyone.  Taking them for coffee are spending some time relationally with them would hit the sweat spot.  Share your words in a relational environment and take time with them.   For those who are Performance based in their motivation, you might want to consider an award of some kind.  Thanks, accompanied by a promotion, more responsibility, or benefit demonstrates their value.  People that are motivated by Process do not prefer public thanks.  But writing down the specific ways they contributed to the project would be much appreciated. 

The mistake we often make is that people like words of thanks the same way that we do.  I once had a co-worker spend a considerable amount of money taking all my diplomas and certificates of achievement and had them mounted and framed for my office.  That was his way of showing thanks to me.  However, there was a reason these things were never framed or hung up but sat in a pile on the floor.  They were not that important to me.  His office was plastered with every award.  We appreciated different things and liked to be thanked differently. 

4.  Be generous in frequency

This forth tip on making your thanks more effective and powerful applies to all people.  Be generous in giving thanks to the people around you.  Sometimes we are so stingy in how we appreciate other people.  We take them for granted.  We do not acknowledge how much they matter to us and how they contribute to our lives.  Become known as a thankful person who values other people.  This will not only raise your charisma but will produce a culture of joy and cooperation. 

It is no surprise that the Scriptures command us to give thanks with a grateful heart.  We have so much to be thankful.  We should give thanks to God and we should be generous in giving thanks to those around us.  The Apostle Paul modeled giving thanks to others in every letter he wrote.  Usually he began his letters with words of thanksgiving, pointing out specifically why he was so grateful for the people.  Being thoughtful on how we express our thanks can transform our world and, in the process, bring about a transformation in ourselves. 

Thank you for reading this blog! 

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.