The Power of “Thanks”

“Always show more kindness than necessary, because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.” – Colin Powell

When contemplating an awards program for our growing use of social media throughout the Howard-Suamico School District (Green Bay, Wis.) one of our teachers suggested a simpler approach: “I don’t want an award; just write me a nice thank-you note.”

Longtime Campbell’s CEO Doug Conant shared more than 30,000 handwritten thank-you notes over the course of his 10 years at the helm. That’s 10-20 a day! He said this of his effort:

I heard over and over from executives the line, ‘Hey, we say thank you with a paycheck.’ Well, guess what? You don’t say thank you with a paycheck. You say I’m paying you with a paycheck. You say thank you with thank you.”

In our school PR roles as public goodwill ambassadors on behalf of our students and teachers, it might be easy to overlook the importance of saying thanks along the way. Research shows the practice pays dividends whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of the gratitude.  Here are some ideas for how to share thanks each day:

  1. When you retweet a link to TV coverage, thank the reporter and camera operator by name. Or better yet, snap a pic while they work and tweet-tease their upcoming coverage.
  2. Social media is inherently social — thank your followers who take the time to append a kind note to a post.
  3. Ask for five minutes at a school staff meeting. Highlight great collective or individual work that has made a difference in your world. Expert level: bait-and-switch with praise for the principal in front of his or her staff.
  4. Sometimes private thanks is better: make a goal of one handwritten note a day and keep track. My personal record streak is six straight months.
  5. My first principal would do this at staff meetings: tuck a $1 scratch-off lottery ticket into a handwritten note when you want to show how lucky you are to work with someone.

Thank you for reading. I’d be grateful to hear your thank-you tips and tricks. – @bsnicol2 or brianico@hssd.k12.wi.us

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3 Replies to “The Power of “Thanks””

  1. Great ideas all the way around! Personal notes (paper or digital) are a fantastic way to build relationships. My superintendent sends birthday cards with a personal note to every employee, every year. It is an investment, but it has a great payout, too. He is also quick to engage with our teachers and coaches sharing their work on Twitter. It’s all about relationships!

    1. Thanks for the note, Kristin. My revelation (stolen from the Twitterverse) was hashtag-shaped sticky notes from the dollar store for Social Media-related thank-yous. I buy them out everytime a shipment comes in. Each principal has a pack now, too.

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