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.