I've written about this before, but it's ones of those things that bears repeating. So, please bear with me.
As a kid growing up in Utah, we weren't that far from my maternal grandparents who lived in Wyoming. As a result, we saw them quite a bit. Either they'd come to Provo to visit us many times a year or we'd go to Green River to visit them several times a year. My grandfather was--how shall I say it?--a little rough around the edges at times. But rough in ways that were more gruff and no nonsense than coarse or inappropriate. Although, I dare say, it could be argued that, when he'd test a light socket with a screwdriver and then curse like a sailor when it would give him a shock, perhaps his cursing wasn't all that appropriate. Especially when the grandkids were around. Still, we all loved him--colorful language notwithstanding.
Whenever Grandpa would run errands, he'd take his mugwumps along with him. We'd tag along excitedly because we knew it would undoubtedly result in some kind of sugary treat that would leave us high as kites and leave our mothers pulling their hair out and silently cursing their father for buying us candy and soda. Wherever we went, if the errand involved some kind of interaction with a customer service representative, Grandpa would always smile, greet the person warmly, and ask how they were. Folks always responded in kind to him and around town he became known as "Mr Sunshine" because he always seemed to have a smile and a hello for everyone.
When Grandpa had finished whatever tranactions he had, the CSR would say to him, "Is there anything else I can get for you today, Bang?" His answer was always the same: "Just a few kind words, please." He was generally rewarded then with a genuine "Thank you" and a "Have a nice day."
The other day at PharmaCo., the in-laws of one of the staff came by to visit. The father-in-law was a little gruff and seemed a bit perturbed by the fact that he had to sign into security in the building's lobby and then again when he reached our reception area. By the end of his visit, though, he'd talked golf with one of the lobbyists and, by the time he came back to the reception area to return his visitor's badge, he was in a decidedly better mood. I'd pulled out a couple of boxes of PharmaCo.-branded golf balls as a gift for him and, when I handed them to him, his eyes lit up.
He said, "Is there anything I can get for you?"
To which I replied, "Just a few kind words, sir."
"Thank you," he said.
When I came in the next morning, Lobbyist Mom had left two handwritten thank-you notes on my desk from her adorable twin boys, who had also visited her, along with the in-laws/grandparents, Monday. I'd cobbled together a goody package for each of the boys... Stuff like a PharmaCo. pen and mug, a PharmaCo. shirt, and PharmaCo.-branded tennis balls for their dog. Nothing exciting, but fun stuff to eight-year olds. That night after dinner, she made her boys sit down and write thank-you cards. They weren't elaborate; in fact, they were fill-in-the-blank cards. But the larger point is, she taught them a valuable lesson and is cultivating in them an attitude of gratitude.
Needless to say, I was touched.
As I've been working at PharmaCo., I've been fortunate to have a supervisor who is also grateful. I don't feel like I'm doing anything all that extraordinary, but at least once a week, if not once a day, she says, "Thank you." If you've ever worked for someone who is ungrateful and can only criticize, working for someone like Supervisor Lady is like an oasis in a desert.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. It takes mere seconds to tell someone you appreciate what they've done for you. Whether it's the cashier at the grocery store or the UPS guy on your porch, the receptionist at your doctor's office or the toll booth operator on the toll road, your admin or your best friend, saying thank you goes a long, long way.
I don't think I ask for a lot in life, but there's nothing I appreciate more than a few kind words--given or received.
Photo copyright: Janet M Kincaid