This article was originally posted via Forbes.
In a fast-paced work environment, it’s easy for gratitude to get lost in the momentum of the daily grind. As cofounder of an educational consulting company, I often share this insight with students who are applying to college and reflecting on their academic trajectories, participating in interviews and asking for recommendations for the first time. Not only is it an essential courtesy, but taking the time to write, say or even act out a “thank you” also has tremendous professional and psychological benefits for you and your business.
To Your Future Employers
If I could give one piece of advice to job applicants, it would be simple: Say “thank you.” Say it when you leave the interview — and then again when you get home. I’m not partial to the handwritten card, though it’s always a pleasant surprise to receive one in the mail. More often than not, a prompt and well-composed email will do. Be sure to write within 24 hours, as many decisions are made quickly. Above all, be specific. Reference a particular part of the conversation, or follow up on a question or topic that was left lingering.
I was especially impressed recently when an applicant further reflected on one of the questions I had asked during the interview in her thank-you email. It’s not that the answer she gave in the room wasn’t a strong one, but it was clear she was still thinking about the conversation that had taken place after she left our office. Showing gratitude should not just be a formality, but a further opportunity to demonstrate interest and engagement.
To Your Clients
As a customer, there’s nothing I love more than receiving a handwritten note with a purchase or a clever birthday greeting. For this reason, I’m always conscious in my own business to show gratitude for our customers in the form of unexpected perks, whether it’s by sending a gift “just because” or sharing a favorite book with a note inscribed (we are an education company, after all).
Our primary goal is to educate families, so we host lectures and send frequent email blasts with important information. The intended audience? Not prospective clients, but current ones. In this way, we’re saying “thank you” to our clients for trusting us and for being a part of our community. Consider planning “members only” events for your clients to show you care and cultivate brand loyalty, whether it’s in the form of a presentation at your office, a sponsored charity event, or even a group exercise class.
To Your Staff
A culture of appreciation begins, first and foremost, with your team. My co-founder and I often reflect on just how lucky we are to have the opportunity to guide such amazing students through their educational journeys, and to do so with the support of our incredible staff. To manifest this gratitude, we start off each staff meeting with a recap of all the positive things that have transpired since we last met (both for the company and our students), and actively carve out the time to recognize our team members’ accomplishments.
Build this into your staff meeting routine like you would any other process. Each week, our staff meeting notes have the same first bullet: a positive reflection on the week before. This year, we hosted our first retreat to celebrate our team’s hard work and set goals for coming year. Each of us shared not only what we thought we could do better, but also spoke about what was going well so we could further build on those practices.
I once received a valuable piece of advice from someone I admire: End every day by writing in a journal three things you’re grateful for. We’re all busy, and the negative can so often overshadow the positive. Gratitude doesn’t just happen; it needs to be an active part of your daily routine.
So give it a try. You’ll thank yourself for it.