Thank You, Plus One

When my daughter was in middle school, I enrolled her in a cotillion program to learn social skills, manners, and formal dance etiquette. She was already a polite young woman, but shy, and I thought this program would help her gain confidence in social settings. While I am not sure how much my daughter learned from the classes, I do remember being impressed with their “thank you, plus one” approach. Basically, when you thank someone in person or in writing, you should thank them and add one specific, personal thought. For example, “Thank you for inviting me to the party. I really liked the cupcakes you served.”

This morning, I sent a holiday tip to our newspaper carrier. I jotted a quick “thank you for delivering our paper” and then decided to add “and for double-bagging on rainy days.” It felt good to thank them for how they deliver the paper.

As leaders, we can thank people in many ways: in casual conversations, during meetings, in emails, in performance evaluations, with formal recognition programs, and so on. Each time, we also have the opportunity to add a “plus one” about how the work was accomplished. E.g., “Thank you for writing an article for this month’s newsletter. I especially appreciated that you included quotes from customers to make your points.” With the “thank you, plus one” approach, you:

  • Demonstrate that you are paying attention not just to what your employees are doing, but also how they are accomplishing their work.
  • Deliver a more meaningful thank you, and
  • Reinforce the behaviors you want to see again.

How do you like to thank the people around you? What was the most memorable thank you that you ever received? I’d like to hear from you!


© 2012 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “Thank You, Plus One

  1. This is a great idea! I once got thanked by an employee in a voicemail shortly after I fired them. I was in shock that someone could find it in their heart to thank me for how I conducted the termination. He commented on how I managed the situation with grace and compassion and how I remembered his needs along the process. In my Human Resources career of almost 20 years no statement has ever meant so much as that voicemail I received. In fact that ex-employee is still someone I connect with whenever I can.

  2. My most memorable thank you gift from a manager was a one-year subscription to (the audiobook company) because it perfectly matched who I am (a total book lover) and my situation at the time (a long commute). The books made my long commute something that I often looked forward to rather than dreaded. This particular gift also showed me that my manager took the time to truly know me as an individual and not just an employee. Actually, this gift is one of the most memorable gifts I’ve EVER received!

    1. I once read that the best gifts are the ones you didn’t know you wanted or needed until you received it. To give these kinds of gifts, we need to truly know our employees, family members, and friends. Thanks for sharing your story, Deb.

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