Thursday, April 04, 2013

The importance of saying Thank you

I've been involved with Toastmasters for around seven or eight years now.  Toastmasters has contests in the spring and fall.  I won my club's International Speech contest and competed in the area contest.  Below are my notes for my speech.



A friend of mine as a teenage boy lived with his mother.  One Christmas his father sent him a really, really nice Christmas gift.  It was worth several hundred dollars.  Several times his mother encouraged my friend to send a Thank You note.  Each time he responded with “Yeah mom, I’ll get to it.”  The year rolled by and my friend was very excited about the possibilities of what he would get for the next Christmas.  Next Christmas his father send the son a really nice Christmas card, but no gift. 


My friend learned the importance of expressing gratitiude.


This evening I will talk about the importance of saying thank you and encourage each of you to start a habit or improve your habit of expressing gratitude.  I will talk about WHY we should say thank you.  I will point out that we should be thoughtful about WHO thank.  There are obvious groups of people and there are much less obvious groups of people.  Finally I’ll end with some suggestions on HOW to say thanks.


Why should we say “Thank you?” 

There are several reasons why we should say thank you.

First, gratitude puts positive energy into society.  We get along better when appreciation is shown.  We are much more likely to ignore a jerk who cuts us off on the road if we are feeling appreciated. The positive energy of gratitude helps us past negative moments of life.

A second reason to scatter “Thank yous” throughout our day is most of us really want people to know we appreciate their time, effort and energy on our behalf.  It isn’t a secret, we want them to know that we are truly grateful.  But often we get so busy we don’t get around to saying thanks.

Another reason for expressing our gratitude is a bit self serving, but let’s be practical.  People are much more likely to help us a second time if we make sure they know we really appreciated it the first time.  The person who helped us will be much more likely feel that the effort was worth it.


As you consider WHO to Thank, I ask you to look beyond the obvious.  It is easy to remember to thank those who give us a gift, but there are many others who can go unnoticed.

I became very aware of this last fall.  I’ve been a recreational youth soccer coach for ten years.  The normal pattern is you get your roaster in August, you start practices, games commence in September, the season finishes in November and you end with a party.  At the party the coach says a few nice words about each player and then the parents give the coach a nice thank you card signed by the players, along with a gift.

This last year I been trying to send out thank you notes each week.  So at the end of soccer season in November I sent a thank you note to a soccer coordinator.  She created roaster, built the schedule and made sure each team had a coach. She is one of those who works behind the scenes. 

A couple weeks after I sent the thank you card I happened to bump into her husband at lunch.  I was surprised to learn that was the first thank you note she had received in six years.

Try to pause and look for those who deserve your gratitude, but aren’t always so obvious.

How to say “Thank You”

    How can we say thank you?  There are lots of ways we can show our appreciation.

    One way is to say “Thank you in person.” 

    A quick way is to send off a short email.

    Almost as fast is to make a phone call.  This has an advantage of being personal. 

    One of my favorite ways is to send a Thank You card.  These are fairly inexpensive.  You can get a box of twenty at Office Max for six dollars.  I have found that thank you cards have a lot of impact because few people send them.


I hope by now I’ve convinced most of you to start or improve your habit of expressing gratitude. 

To truly create such a habit you’ll need make an effort.  Look for ways to remind yourself why it is important to say thank you.  Maybe add something to your calendar as a reminder each week. 

Pay attention to those who make your life better and more enjoyable.  Especially look for the less obvious groups of people who you want to show appreciation to. 

And be thoughtful about how you express your appreciation.  Try to make the gesture meaningful so the recipient recognizes that your thanks is truly heartfelt thanks.

 A few years ago I came across a quote that changed me  It is largely what motivated me to try and send out at least one thank you card each week.  The line by a writer named Gladys Stern.  She wrote:

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”

    I’ll say it again because I think it is so important:

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”

    I encourage each of you to be vocal in your gratitude so that it will be of value to others.


Anonymous said...

I really liked your speech! Thanks for posting it and helping me to think more about thanking people who have helped and influenced me.

Henry Cate said...

You are welcome.

I was pleased with how the speech turned out.