I never thought I would describe saying thank you as a life skill, but, alas, I’ve been afforded that opportunity.
This retelling isn’t meant to shame and I certainly don’t want to embarrass anyone so I’m going to keep it vague.
Recently, I was paid a visit by someone who was sent to thank me for something I’d done to benefit them. To fairly set the stage, this person is in a certain position of authourity over me, though not directly. One of the people in between us – a connector between us two, really – had recognized that I’d delivered on something significant and thought it would be nice if someone else acknowledged that, too.
Sounds nice, right? The sentiment of practicing reverse gossip (as Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft call it) or fostering relationships built on appreciation is, in itself, laudable. I’m a big fan.
Here’s the thing: the person encouraged to deliver the praise did it half-heartedly, even acknowledging that it was someone else’s suggestion entirely. The stressed a number of times that it was the connector’s idea that they deliver the thank you and even said that they didn’t understand what the big deal was.
I’m not a person who thrives on or requires praise. It’s become a pet project of mine to acknowledge and receive compliments gracefully and without brushing them off. I don’t need acknowledgement, but I’ll admit that I do enjoy receiving it occasionally. It was extremely flattering to hear that someone who I deeply respect was complimenting me behind my back and it made me really happy after I looked past the delivery, that is. The best way to describe the experience was the wild deflation of a fully blown up balloon as it flies around the room while distributing that weird racket.
It wasn’t really rude – certainly not as rude as it comes across in its retelling – it was just awkward. This person was clearly not comfortable with providing praise nor were they familiar with the trick of meting your words and keeping it succinct when you’re not comfortable with your material.
I mean, who ever thought that saying thank you with sincerity and showing genuine appreciation would be something people would have to work on? Not me, but that feels like a blessing on this side of the encounter.
Is saying thank you a challenge for you? Keep it simple and here are some starters for you. Now go forth and practice!