Written by: Joe Fiduccia
When was the last time you genuinely spoke the words “thank you” to someone…and not just as a formality? I am talking about those moments where you felt like those two words weren’t enough. Or when your heart wanted to jump out of your chest and scream out loud “thank you so so so so so so much!”
Was it a few minutes ago? Yesterday? Last week? Never?
Like Veteran’s Day has become the one time per year Americans truly give thanks to our Veterans, or like Valentine’s Day is the only day each year when a husband may choose to buy flowers for his wife, Thanksgiving Day is notoriously known as the only major day we “give thanks”.
For example, many of us sit down on Thanksgiving Day to give thanks for the surrounding food and family, while others may give thanks in their own silence before closing their eyes for bed. Some will visit local churches to give thanks to the angels above, some will go the extra mile to be a more courteous driver on the road, and others will go so far as to leave a 70% tip for a waitress at their local restaurant.
But regardless of how we individually express our appreciation, virtually everyone has one thing in common – we typically choose Thanksgiving Day (or another major holiday) to do it.
Yet when we wake up the next morning, the thank you’s we offered up so easily the day before become a distant memory that likely won’t repeat itself again until next year.
So as we enter the holiday season and begin with our Thanksgiving celebrations, here are 5 very unique ways you can say thank you to the people in your life:
1. Send a personal message to your co-workers
You communicate with colleagues about business issues via email all day long. And perhaps you get hundreds of messages in your inbox every day that you continue to sift through.
But think about how nice it would be if amongst the barrage of random messages, your co-worker found one with a subject line that said “thank you.” Or think about how you would feel if your manager sent you a personalized message…not to a group or distribution list, but just you…that expressed how appreciative they are of the hard work you have been doing or the good role model you are becoming for others.
I would be willing to bet in a world where many employees feel overworked and under-appreciated, an email like that is guaranteed to keep everyone smiling on the job a bit longer.
2. Do more than just say the words
Let’s take a night out for dinner as an example. It probably happens to you quite often – you finish up your meal at the restaurant, hand the credit card to the waiter, and they bring your receipt back to the table.
What are the words we typically say or hear at that moment? You said it: “thank you.”
But have you ever gone above and beyond to tell your waiter or waitress how thankful you really are for their good service? Do you typically take the time to say to them: “thanks for doing everything you could to make our dining experience an enjoyable one.”
Next time you are out to eat and the waiter gives you that receipt, take 15 seconds to compliment them on the job they did. Explain how you appreciated their attentive service, or how you plan on asking for them again when you return.
Even just a small written thank you note below the tip amount will be more than enough to help brighten their day.
3. Give them an I.O.U.
When someone goes the extra mile for you, it should become your mission to do the same for them. Let’s think about your friends as an example. How many times have you complained to them about a bad situation in your life? How often have you solicited advice from them on a difficult decision you had to make?
How many times have your friends been there for you? Listening…consoling…guiding?
I know what you are thinking. “We should appreciate our friendship with others, and should tell our friends that we are just a phone call away when they need us.”
But not quite.
While this is certainly a good statement to make any day of the week, how about taking it one step further? Find an I.O.U. template online, or create your own. Draft up a personalized letter or card that physically states something like:
“You were there for me when I needed you the most. So now I owe you one. This is my gift card to you. Cash it in any time you need a shoulder to lean on.”
Then hand it to them, mail it, or just leave it on their desk. When they open an I.O.U. written just for them, you can rest assured that moment can turn their entire day around.
4. Surprise them with a phone call or visit
Millions of families out there are divided by one thing: distance. Brothers and sisters who grew up together all of a sudden find themselves married and living in different cities or states. Moms and dads who were always there for you are now enjoying their retirement far, far away. And while friends stay in touch on Facebook, they may rarely get an opportunity to see one other for a night of fun.
So why not get in the car and take a day trip to see the people who continue to be part of your life? Or if you are too far away for a day trip, even something as simple as a phone call instead of a text message can mean the world to your loved ones.
If you want to get creative, why not make a private video message and share it with them? Something personal that addresses your relationship and the fun things you do together. Especially if you haven’t seen or talked to each other in a while, you can have some fun with it while catching them up on your life’s events.
Then at the end you can challenge them to create an even better video.
We are all too busy. I get it. I am a self-employed father, and know all-too-well how hectic life can get. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still make time to show my appreciation for those who have been there for me, regardless of how far apart we are. And sometimes it is our proactive actions that truly show others how thankful we really are.
5. Donate or volunteer for a cause they support, even if you don’t support it yourself
It’s no secret that everyone supports a cause. Everyone you know is passionate about at least one non-profit organization, or raves about something they are a part of (communities, church groups, seminars, etc.). As a friend you may be more than willing to listen as they talk on and on about the cause they believe in. But I am sure are plenty of times when we may not even agree with those beliefs.
Instead of trying to explain to your friends why you don’t believe in their cause, why not surprise them one day by supporting it? Financially I know it can be tough on our wallets to drop that money into the jars around the holidays. And physically it can become draining to work those extra hours as a volunteer at a school or local church.
But our friends have something inside that fuels their passion. So why not give them a free tank of gas…on you!
Pay attention to the groups your friends and family are a part of. Even if it isn’t something you are passionate about, surprise them with a showing of support. Offer to work with them at their next volunteer event one evening, or make an anonymous donation to an organization they support, in their name.
I am not suggesting you should change your beliefs. But a little support can go a long way in saying “thank you” to those who mean the most to you.
In closing, I leave you with these words:
Though most times we may never know it, the people we go out of our way for will be grateful to us. Maybe they will never acknowledge it, and maybe they will never even say thank you in return.
But one thing is certain: they will rest better at night knowing they have a friend or family member as special as you. One who truly understands what it means to give thanks for life…the other 364 days a year.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Tell us in the comments below – what are some of the unique ways you give thanks?