Upping Your Gratitude Game: A Primer for Chairs

Credit: iStock.com/HAKINMHAN

A former department head of mine closed many of their emails with “Thanks for all you do.” It was nice the first time I read it. The second and third time, not so much. I found myself wondering what they meant. Did they know about everything I do? I was pretty sure they didn’t. So what specifically were they thanking me for? Was this sentence part of a signature file, or was it specific to our communication that day? The more frequently I read that sentence without any details associated with it, the less it meant to me. Feelings of cynicism arose because the lack of specificity made me think they did not care what I did. This one-size-fits-all “thanks” was more than ineffective.

Some time ago, I had an aha moment that reshaped how I thank people. One Sunday after church, I approached the service associate to tell them how much I liked the way they facilitated the service. They paused, looked me in the eye, and said, “What did you like about it?” I knew what I liked about it. I just hadn’t said it. So I described three specific things they had done and said why I thought these were especially effective. They then shared with me that they had been working to improve a particular aspect I mentioned and said my acknowledgement was helpful in giving them feedback on their success. This approach to thanking someone seems to be effective for several reasons I will explore.

To continue reading, you must be a Academic Leader Subscriber. Please log in or sign up for full access.

Related Articles

Are you signed up for free bi-weekly Academic Leader updates?

You'll get notified of the newest articles.