When was the last time that you said to someone close to you “Thank You”? Just a simple thank you for some small thing they did. My guess is not only didn’t you say it but you also probably haven’t heard it for a little while.
Even though I’m not a betting man, I bet that one of the first things that your children were taught as they were learning to speak was some derivation of Mommy and Daddy. It could take any form and you’d be proud that they were learning your name. Probably not much later, you taught them “please” and “thank you”. Again my guess is that it started out with some derivation like “ta-ta” for please.
As they grew older and understood more, you would add the ubiquitous “What do you say?” to evoke either a please or thank you. If that didn’t work then a less subtle statement or action may rear its head such as withholding the toy, special treat, or whatever. The object of the lesson being that if you want something be sure to say please and recognize the action by saying thank you.
Again, although I’m not a betting man, I’ll bet that if someone holds a door open for you that you say thank you. That is after you get over the astonishment that some people still do hold doors open for people. As an aside, I find that as I age, more people are looking at my decrepitude and holding doors for me even though I’m quite capable of doing it myself. Regardless, it’s a nice gesture and I always thank them.
So, you’ve taken the time to say thank you to a stranger. Now think about what you do with those closest to you. In our relationships we get into a routine where there are certain expectations. For example, in our house it’s expected that we will divide the house cleaning duties. We will each do what we’re good at doing. My wife doesn’t like the way I clean bathrooms so they’re all hers. I do the dusting, floor cleaning, and vacuuming. It’s a division of labour for us that works well. In this case we don’t say thank you for doing this regular weekly duty. I’m sure that you have similar things in your home.
Now, what about those times that aren’t so cut and dried. We all like to receive recognition for doing a job even if we may do it not as well as our partner but at least we make an effort. When did you last thank someone for doing what might be considered a mundane task?
These tasks could be as simple of unloading or loading the dishwasher; doing a load of laundry; taking things out of the dryer; bringing home some groceries they noticed were needed, all of these things getting done without being asked to do them.
Huge amounts of money are spent on employee recognition programs every year. Employees want to be recognized for a job well done. For most people even a simple “Thank You” is enough. It means, you know what I did and you recognized my contribution. Why don’t we apply this to our personal lives?
If the action isn’t recognized, what’s the next course of action? “What’s the point of doing anything around here, nobody notices anyway!” This could then lead to some interesting but not particularly pleasant discussions at a future date when you say; “It would be nice if my effort was recognized!” However, don’t expect someone to recognize your work if you can’t recognize theirs. Go back to the first quote.
The intent isn’t to say thank you every time someone does something. I can just see it now. “Thank you for closing the fridge door. Thank you for getting up and going to work today. Thank you for not being an idiot.” Just kidding on the last one. You get my drift.
So, today, say “Thank you”, to someone who isn’t expecting it. They’ll either be pleased or wonder what you’re up to. Either way, it could be interesting.