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Why ‘Thank You’ are the Two Most Powerful Words in Business

  • By Judith Bowman
  • |
  • September 18, 2018

Most of us spend more time at work with co-workers than our own family and good friends and yet, work colleagues are typically the last people we tend to recognize.  What do you believe is the single biggest motivator of people in business?

  • Money?
  • Trips?
  • Cars?
  • Raises?
  • Promotions?

While these can be helpful, the fact is, the single most meaningful form of motivation remains: being acknowledged and feeling appreciated for our work as valuable. 

This is a basic human need, yet surveys show the workforce is typically the last place we encounter even a simple “thank you.”

Interestingly, in high context cultures such as China and Japan, the word “thank you” (shi shi) is never said enough!  Not surprisingly, when people are acknowledged for their good work and thanked for contributions they are found to be 50% more effective the world over!

The Power of Saying Thank You

Simply saying “thank you” triggers the happy hormone dopamine which stimulates the brain and tells the brain you are happy, motivating you to do more, to experience more happiness – while at the same time, makes others more likely to help again in the future as you are quietly ingratiating yourself to them.

For example, when we thank someone for their time now, they are more likely to be generous with their time later.  Further, being generous with our time makes us feel like we actually have more time. When we give of ourselves, give our time and do for others, this makes us feel pretty great, as well.

People who give their ‘time’ feel more useful, capable, confident and effective which enhances their own productivity.

9 Ways to Thank Someone in the Workplace
  • Offer your help.
  • Extend a compliment.
  • Offer unexpected praise.
  • Give someone a smile.
  • Give a gift of appreciation for no particular reason at all.
  • Acknowledge others.
  • Publicity acknowledge others who helped you get to a pivotal moment.
  • Thank those behind the scenes and show them their work is seen.
  • Write a thank you note.

Personal relationships are intrinsic to business, community and family bonds. The individuals we encounter every day are not there by chance. These people are there to help us weather our storms, help sharpen and shape us.

Be Better Together

I can tell you my greatest growth has come from challenging times and those people who have linked arms with me and held me accountable.  We are better together and meant to work together, respect each other and treat each other with appreciation, dignity, caring and kindness.

Everyone falls, and when we do, others are there to help us stand.  To lead a successful life, you need to realize those people who are important and those with whom you feel are worth developing strong relationships.  Make special note of those who are smarter, more accomplished, more positive! Always play Up in life and strive to develop strong relationships and form a community. It’s as much about what you give as what you receive.

Reach out of the ‘self’ zone and consciously acknowledge and encourage others daily.  In so doing, you yourself become encouraged.  Studies show we are our happiest – not when we get a gift or go on vacation, however, our emotional happiness is tied in to when we are helpful.  Being helpful gives us the greatest sense of happiness.

In fact, they call it, “Helpful High,” a euphoric feeling.  Look around and you will see people with whom you want to invest and be a part of your life.  We can all help sharpen and shape each other.

The Roots of the California Redwoods

There is a wonderful story about the redwood tree in California.  These trees grow up to 350 feet.  What is interesting is their roots are very shallow, only about five and one half (5 ½) feet underground.  One would think that with their extraordinary height they would require extremely deep roots.

Interestingly, the redwood tree’s roots do not grow deep, they find the other trees’ roots and begin to intermingle their roots and in so doing, find nutrition with one another, as their roots are so intermingled, they hold each other up.

In fact, a tree in the middle of all those trees can die of old age and still stand for hundreds of years because it is so intermingled with the other trees.  By finding its strength from being interwoven with the other trees and their roots, blowing winds, torrential rains and severe drought will never threaten their stability.

If we could be as united in our lives is the redwood trees, I believe we could withstand and weather any storm or drought because we are not only helping hold one another up, we are giving nourishment and strength to one another.


Consider who you are invested in, who you are standing with and to whom you are giving precious time.

When you reach out to others and commingle your roots, you give others your most precious commodities – the gift of appreciation, time, energy, strength – you make a difference.

When you entwine your life with someone else and you invest in them, I believe that’s when you will stand strong, stand high and will be able to withstand the storms of this life.

Are you just getting by or are you getting better? Get started today!

Author Bio

Judith Bowman founded Protocol Consultants International in 1993 and has prospered to become an established Business Protocol expert, educator, corporate speaker, and renowned authority in the field of Professional Presence, Dining Savvy, International Protocol Awareness, and personal and professional development. Ms. Bowman also provides Protocol Certification. She is a graduate of Boston College and has pursued studies in Effective Business Communication at Harvard University. Ms. Bowman speaks to critical interpersonal communication skills and shares specific nuances advantageous to exemplary conduct in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive global work environment. She showcases everyday business situations and shows professionals how to leverage these as opportunities to demonstrate respect while earning respect - while showing you know “the difference” while making a difference to stand apart and outclass the competition! Ms. Bowman has authored two business protocol books: “Don’t Take the Last Donut…” (Career Press) presently sold in 16 countries, translated in 14 languages, and her new book, “How to Stand Apart @ Work …” She has authored a weekly Everyday Etiquette column syndicated throughout New England for ten years by the Pulitzer Prize winning Eagle Tribune Publishing Company. Internationally, she authored a Business Protocol column for the prestigious Noblesse Magazine, China. She presently writes a weekly Business Protocol column for Boston Herald newspapers and has a coordinating weekly radio segment, “A Protocol Moment” on Herald Radio. She also writes a monthly Fabulous Woman series which features truly fabulous women who have shattered the glass ceiling and has been featured in Leader to Leader, March, 2015. Bowman has produced a series of support products which include: Executive Etiquette/First Impressions DVD, DINING 101 DVD and Protocol Training DVD – from her on-line How to Stand Apart series.