The simple act of saying "Thank You" when it's sincere and unexpected can deepen your relationships.
In the episode “Building Your Network,” we said to start networking by calling people you already know. Nice in theory, but not always in practice. It gets awkward. After all, what do you talk about with an ex-boss? “So, long time no see. Did that little halitosis problem hurt your career the way you were afraid it would?"
Miriam has the answer. Kick off the conversation by thanking them. And no, I don’t mean “Thank you for buying Listerine, I was afraid I'd turn blue from trying to hold my breath while you were talking." Find something—no matter how small—that you sincerely appreciated. Be specific. Go for the thing you’re genuinely grateful for.
“You know, I was just thinking of you. You revolutionized my entire life by teaching me to do great project planning. It’s made an amazing difference. Thank you.
Gratitude is for your benefit
Sincerely thanking the people you take for granted is huge. Instead of complaining about the bellman who didn’t move fast enough, thank the bellman who carried your bags, remembered your name from last year, and greeted you with a smile. Next time you come in, you’ll be remembered again.
“But they’re just doing their job. Should I thank them for doing their job?” Yes. You’re not giving them a performance review: “You fulfilled job expectations.” You're feeling gratitude and sharing the good feeling with them. Feeling gratitude makes you happier (or so says research), so why make your gratitude depend on their performance?
I called my 10th grade math teacher and thanked her for being my best teacher ever. I got so choked up I could hardly talk for a minute—mainly because my brain couldn’t call her “Beth” and “Mrs. S” seemed silly when I’m older now than she was then. I finally croaked out my appreciation. We both felt grateful. She was hearing a former student thank her, and I can do trigonometry. Or could. Once. In tenth grade.