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The Importance of Thank-You

The Importance of Thank-You

In business settings, it’s really easy to forget to take the time to say Thank-You, and yet, it’s an important part of interaction with others. It’s important to people that they feel valid, important, and respected. Just as saying sorry matters, so too does remembering to thank those who help you move forward. Here are some tips and ideas:

  • Email is nice; a personal card is better– It’s really easy to send email. I just sent a thank-you that way, and that’s what prompted me to post this. And yet, looking back, I think it’s much nicer to send along a physical card. A personal note written by your own hand inside matters far more than a few lines of type into a window that’s so easily available at your fingertips. It shows you care enough to take an extra step.
  • Write specifically– We’ve all done it: we get a gift from someone around the holidays or our birthday but we forget who sent what, so we send out that generic “Thanks very much for the gift.” People know. They feel a little less special when you’ve sent a generic reply. I find that people respond really well to targeted responses. “Thanks for the copy of IMPROV WISDOM. I really look forward to reading it, and look forward to discussing it with you when we talk next.” That’s simple, brief, and targeted.
  • Use nice cards and a nice pen– If you’re going to go this route, put in the extra few minutes to purchase nice notecards and use a pen that gives you decent flow. You don’t have to break the bank to still give a professional and yet personal presence via the thank-you note you select and the ink you use to sign it. And, just like attractive-looking people don’t always have a great voice for radio, an expensive pen isn’t always the best flowing pen. Read up on pens and their value on sites like PigPog, where Michael is nigh obsessed with quality writing materials.
  • In person– Make sure you say thank-you to people face to face when you have the opportunity. The same “content” applies. Be brief, be specific, and be warm about it. Say so in an unhurried way, looking into the person’s eyes. It is not enough to just say the words, or at least it won’t have the same effect. Don’t make it into a miniseries TV moment, but do try to make sure the person senses how imporant their contribution to your life really was.

I won’t belabor the point more than this. Thank the people in your life who add value, and make sure you spread a little good karma that way. Be kind and generous in your thanks, and the results will almost always be favorable.

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–Chris Brogan is very thankful for the opportunity to write for you. He’d send out personal cards to you all, but you forgot to give him your address. Stop by [chrisbrogan.com] and say hi.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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