Thank You. 4 Ways to Make Those Two Words Count

by Jennifer Miller on May 9, 2011

in Communication

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Along with a wonderful day enjoyed with my family, I received an unforeseen bonus from an unlikely source: my son’s Little League coach. Imagine my surprise when I opened my email yesterday to find a genuine note of “thanks” from Coach Bob to all the mothers on the team.

People appreciate being thanked. This is true whether you’re a Little League mom, a government worker or employed by a large company.  The benefits of appreciation have implications for employee retention and engagement as well. According to a study conducted by Aon Hewitt, nearly half of the employees surveyed said that being appreciated at work would motivate them to stay with their organization.

That being said, not all “thank you’s” are created equal. Here’s what made Bob’s message of gratitude so powerful:

It was unexpected. Never underestimate the element of surprise. How many Little League moms do you suppose received a note of thanks from their team’s head coach yesterday? When an expression of gratitude comes from an unexpected source, it amplifies an already pleasant experience.

Sincerity. I’ve absolutely no doubt about the sincerity of Bob’s message because, already this early in the season, he’s established a rapport with his players and the team parents. He has a track record of positive comments, so I trust his motives in sending this message.

Specificity. Rather than stop with a perfunctory “thanks for all you do”, Bob cited very specific actions that he was thanking us for: washing the boys’ uniforms, helping out in the dugout and taking stats during the game.

It spoke to my heart. The message was made all the more powerful because Bob tapped into a strong maternal motivator: the desire to raise a decent human being.

Your sons have never had one moment when they are anything less than attentive, respectful, energetic, and normal.  They have won without gloating and lost without complaining. They hustle, respect their opponent, are grateful for a postgame treat. . . Any success that we have can be traced back to you and the job that you have done in raising these boys!

With this heart-felt and sincere message, Bob provided the highest praise for a parent: acknowledgement of one of the hardest jobs around. His words of thanks had a profound impact.

Take a look around. Who do you know that could benefit from a sincere and specific note of thanks that’s both unexpected and from the heart?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Henry Sr. May 9, 2011 at 11:16 am

Jennifer, great post and reminder. It’s not just saying thanks that gets the job done. When we genuinely appreciate people, sincerity, specificity and meaning come naturally. Thank you for the great reminder. Mike…

Jennifer V. Miller May 9, 2011 at 11:36 am


It’s fitting that you would comment on this post because you are truly masterful at appreciating people in a sincere way! You and Coach Bob share many admirable qualities.

Have a great day!

Sarah Gutek May 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Hi Jennifer:

What a great post! I really enjoyed reading it and the reminder to be sincere and specific. Can’t hear things like this too often.


Khalid December 31, 2011 at 6:53 am

Very inspiring Jennifer,

I think you deserve a big THANK YOU for making my last year full of joy by reading your creative posts 🙂

It’s an honer to be a follower of yours

Jennifer January 2, 2012 at 11:13 am


Thanks for the kind words and for being such an avid supporter of The People Equation on Twitter. Wishing you all the best for a wonderful 2012!

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