I mean it! Thank you for taking time from your busy day to read this column. Even though we both know that your day is completely unbusy, and that you have absolutely nothing better to do, and that you only started reading because you thought you were going to get some inside dirt on the big Bennifer break up, which you definitely would, except I swore to Jen I would not talk about it, I still thank you.
And why am I thanking you so effusively?
Because I know that by thanking you I have pretty much guaranteed that you will really like me, and friend me on Facebook, and link to me on LinkedIn, and invite me to your birthday party. That’s right, sucker. You’re putty in my hands, and all because I thanked you.
If you’re surprised by this amazing feat of social ju-jitsu, you haven’t read “It Pays to Give Thanks at the Office” by Janice Kaplan in The Wall Street Journal. According to Kaplan, “in a 2013 survey of 2,000 Americans, some 80 percent agreed that receiving gratitude makes them work harder.”
None of this is news to Larry Page, the CEO of Alphabet. [He used to be CEO of Google, but isn’t any more. Guess he got insufficient thank yous.] “We love our employees and we want them to know it,” Page said. “Appreciation is the best motivation.”
Your own boss may not be as enlightened as Larry Page, but she definitely shares the same point of view. In fact, your boss is so convinced that giving you appreciation is more important than giving you money, that she hardly gives you any money at all.
It was a survey by the John Templeton Foundation that found out that 80 percent of workers work harder if they’re appreciated. They also found out that despite relishing any random thank you when it came in their direction, “only 10 percent managed to express gratitude to others every day.’Thanks’ — whether sent up, down or sideways – was rarely heard.”
This is understandable. When you spend your entire career on the bottom, waiting in vain for a “Thank you” to dribble down on you from above, it grows increasingly unlikely that you will call out a hearty “Thank you” to the folks on top.
As for those folks on top, we know how rare it is to find a manager who is loose, or even reckless with their thank yous. As executive coach and consultant Beth Schermer explains, despite her efforts to encourage managers to show gratitude, “the comment we hear is, ‘I say thank you to my employees to every week. It’s called a paycheck.'”
There is some truth in this remark, though, considering your salary, that paycheck thank you is barely audible, and it grows even fainter when they start with the deductions. If writing out checks represents giving thanks, we know who is getting overwhelmed with thank yous — the electric company, the cable company and the IRS.
Adam Grant, a professor of Management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, “divides people into three categories — givers, takers and matchers.” [Though I’m not sure she ever finished her MBA at Wharton, Taylor Swift had a similar insight in "Shake It Off” when she sang "givers gonna give, give, give; takers gonna take, take, take; matchers gonna match, match, match.” Or something like that.]
Naturally, Professor Grant feels the most positive about the givers, who “contribute to others without looking for a reward; they offer help, advice and knowledge, share valuable contacts and make introductions.”
Sounds lovely, but if you are thinking you’ve never worked with “givers,” perhaps you know them better by their scientific name. They’re called “suckers.”
If you ever decide you want to start using thank yous as a weapon, you might take a page — not a Larry Page — from Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It was Carnegie’s advice “to be specific about what someone has done and give honest and sincere appreciation.”
Try it! If thanking above, tell your manager, “Thank you for being incompetent; you’ve made me realize that if you can get promoted, anyone can.” If thanking sideways, tell your colleague, “Thank you for being so inefficient; you even make me look good.”
If you’re thanking down, well, that’s pretty impossible. There’s no one on the totem pole lower than you. But you can always thank yourself.
You definitely deserve it.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.