How to Say Thank You
Saying thank you is something we do professionally and personally to acknowledge the important people who support us. I’m sure you’re already aware of the need to say thank you every time people do something nice for you, however, on some occasions you may also choose to show your appreciation with a gift. A gift is a lovely way to say thank you and can further cement the relationship, however, what you choose and how you do it can make a big difference to the impact it has on the person receiving it. Here are some suggestions for doing it well:
Find out what they like
It’s easy to use the same gift very time such as a bottle of wine or a hamper but nothing says thank you better than a gift that shows you’ve really listened to what’s important to the person involved. For example, for someone who really loves their dog a gift basket of dog items (e.g.: food, toys, etc) will be thoroughly appreciated and shows them that you know what’s important to them. All it takes to find out information like this is to listen. For example, they might say, “I went out to XXX restaurant and really enjoyed it” – which is a big clue for a possible gift voucher for that restaurant in the future.
Find out what they don’t like
Pay attention also to the things they don’t like so that you can avoid giving gifts that show you haven’t listened when they’ve shared information with you. For example, giving a bottle of red wine when they only drink white or chocolates if they’re trying to follow a healthy diet, isn’t likely to have the positive impact you’d planned. Again you can learn this important information simply by paying attention to what they say and (if needed) ask further details in casual conversation. For example, they might say “I really don’t like going to the movies” and so you might ask “What sort of things do you like doing?”
Keep a record
When you have a lot of clients (or friends) and you find it difficult to remember individual preferences, it’s a good idea to record this information against their contact details (e.g.: restaurant preferences, hobbies, interests, what type of flowers they like, sports, music, etc.) as well as what you’ve given in the past. This will help ensure that you give them the right type of gift every time and avoid repeating a gift (unless of course they really like it).
People can change their preferences periodically or other things become more important as their circumstances change so be sure to keep listening, paying attention and updating your records accordingly. Ensuring that your gift giving always suits them personally demonstrates an active interest in who they are and what’s going on in their life. After all that’s exactly what they’re doing for you and it should be recognised with reciprocal behaviour.
Find other ways to say thank you
Not everyone wants a gift when they help you out, in fact some people can feel very uncomfortable accepting one. This is where understanding them personally is important (as you’ll be aware of it) and can then choose an alternative way to say thank you instead. Other ways to say thank you include; providing reciprocal referrals to your business partners, doing something for free in return for their assistance, providing a discount on your normal services, introducing them to someone who can be of benefit to them, providing some useful information they’ve been searching for or being an advocate for them personally or professionally. Again it’s about choosing something they would appreciate and it may not always be a physical gift.
Surprise them with something unexpected
Whilst standard gift programs in businesses can work well (particularly when there are a large number of clients involved) they can also start to become a little routine after a while (especially once you’ve repeated a gift a couple of times for the same person). Consider doing something unexpected (at least periodically). For example, if a business partner has referred you a number of new clients then find out what they like to eat and take them out to lunch. Whilst the lunch itself will be appreciated the most valuable aspect of this is the time you spend with them as this type of gesture shows you really value the relationship and provides the opportunity to get to know them better. Or maybe you have a client who’s referred a number of other clients and you could arrange tickets to their favourite show or sporting event. And don’t forget too that recognising an important life event with a well considered gift (like a birth, wedding or significant birthday) is a perfect opportunity to surprise someone with something unexpected!
Do it quickly
When you decide to thank someone for their support or assistance don’t leave it too long or it will lose it’s impact and begin to seem like an afterthought (rather than being high on your priority list). Deliver the gift promptly or book that lunch or event in now if you’ve promised to do it.
Don’t forget anyone
Sadly our best supporters can sometimes be forgotten because they’re always there doing everything they can to support us. And whilst they do this because they are special people who love to support us, they may start to feel a little neglected if we don’t find ways to periodically acknowledge them or simply stay in touch. Take a moment now and think about this. Is there someone in your life who’s always there and who you haven’t thanked or spoken to in a awhile?
Saying thank you is an important part of acknowledging people for their support and assistance. However, it will be even more appreciated if you take the time to find out what they’d really like. Doing this shows that you’re paying careful attention to what’s important to them in the same way these wonderful people are paying attention to what’s important to you.
Photo credit: iStock.com/budrio