If you’re not familiar with the phrase, “life-hacking” is a tech savvy term for something between productivity enhancement and self-help. What follows is a an item highlighted in the recent post of lifehacker.com, originally appearing in the Harvard Business Review, on the importance and strategic value (it’s business, after all) of saying “thanks.”
“John, the CEO of a sales organization, sent an email to Tim, an employee several levels below, to compliment him on his performance in a recent meeting. Tim did not respond to the email.
“About a week later, he was in John’s office applying for an open position that would have been a promotion into a management role, when John asked him whether he had received the email. Yes, Tim said, he had. Why, John asked, hadn’t he responded? Tim said he didn’t see the need.
“But Tim was wrong. John’s email deserved, at the very least, a ‘thank you.’
“Tim didn’t get the promotion. Was he passed over solely because he didn’t thank John for the positive feedback? No. But was Tim’s lack of response one piece of the Tim puzzle that convinced John he should choose a better candidate? Undoubtedly. Before you accuse John of being trivial or over-sensitive, before you condemn his poor hiring judgment, consider what saying “thank you” represents. On a basic level, it communicates that you received the email. While there’s a lot of advice that discourages writing “thank you” emails because they contribute to email overload, I disagree. I answer every real email I receive because I want to avoid the recipient’s “Did Peter get my email and what’s he thinking?” angst. It takes three seconds to respond “thanks” and it completes the transaction initiated by the sender.
“But an email that contains emotional content — like a compliment — deserves something longer: a real, thought-out “thank you” as opposed to a simple I-received-your-email “thank you.” When you offer a real thought-out “thank you” to someone, you’re acknowledging her effort, appreciating her thoughtfulness, recognizing her intent, and offering feedback on the impact of her actions.
“Still, it’s more than that. Those things are rational, but saying “thank you” is mostly an emotional act. It connects one person to another. Saying “thank you” doesn’t just acknowledge someone’s effort, thoughtfulness, intent, or action. It acknowledges the person himself.”