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October 9, 2013 at 9:17 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

The Art of Saying "Thank You"

By Jeffrey VanWingen M.D. More Blogs by This Author

My two-year-old daughter is developing quickly. Thus far, the unsavory "terrible twos" have been tolerable. Potty training is around the corner, and she is doing a great job communicating her needs. She's also a polite little girl. Her cute little "pweeze" and "sank you" warms my heart.

I had another heart-warming "thank you" this week that got me thinking about the power of these two simple words.

My "Thank You" Experience

Many of my employees are young women entering the medical field. Eventually, they'll get their nursing degree, some young man will sweep them off their feet, or both. And then they're gone to pursue greater things.

I hadn't heard from one such former employee in years until I received a message on my work phone Monday Morning. Renae was in town from Tennessee with her three children in tow. One of them is prone to ear infections and was suffering from an earache. Renae wondered if I could help. Naturally, I had them come in and saw them over my lunch break. We spent 10% of the time evaluating the sore ear and 90% of the time catching up.

It took me less than two minutes to look up in the ear and write the prescription for an antibiotic. Renae locked eyes with me, tilted her head slightly to the side, and gave me a sincere "thank you," as did each of her kids. They got their obligatory stickers and suckers, and they were off. Three days later, I got a nice note reiterating her thankfulness. It hit me on a busy morning when my attitude could have used some help. Those two simple words invigorated my attitude for the rest of the day.

The Formula

As humans, we do better when we feel appreciated. It gives purpose to our actions. It makes us want to get out there and keep doing what we're doing.

I talk to a lot of patients suffering from stress in the workplace and at home, and a common theme I encounter is a lack of appreciation. Upper management doesn't notice a job well done, leaving individual pride in an employees work lacking. Families fail to notice the provision of a good, comfortable life or the "expected" things like dinner on the table or a clean house.

Obviously we work for a paycheck, but a vocation should be more than just a monetary agreement in order to maintain satisfaction. I could work for "thank you's" if they paid the bills, but getting both the financial and emotional reward is ideal.

We say "thanks" a lot. It's a common sign-out: "OK, thanks. Goodbye." Most "thank yous" are lip service. Make yours count. Make eye contact. Let the tone of your voice convey your gratitude. Re-enforce this gratitude with a touch, a handshake, or an embrace (when appropriate). And don't forget the power of the pen. A sticky note or a quick letter can make a person's day.

A Simple Reminder

To most of us, what I've written is common sense, but sometimes it's easy to forget. We get in our daily routine and forget that we have the power to brighten the spirits of those around us. Gradually, this positivity spreads from person to person and creates an intertwining web. I encourage you to be the catalyst here. If you are a parent, teach your children the importance of appreciating others and show them how to do so by example.

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1 Comment

  • Well let me be the first to say Thank You for writing it, and reminding us the importance of these two words.

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