They are the two most powerful words you can use while practicing law – but at times they are used the least. Whether you use them communicating with clients, partners, colleagues or even the cleaner – the effect will follow you throughout your career. These two words are not “Try Harder” or “Work Faster” but “Thank You”.
Expressing gratitude reduces stress while increasing optimism, effectiveness, business relationships and job satisfaction. Not only that, these positive benefits increase over time with usage. Recent research has demonstrated that even those who have been made to say thank you, rather than doing so spontaneously, experience benefit.
You might feel that saying thank you at work is something rather fluffy or vague. However, the opposite is true – it is all about feeling valued and seeing the value in others. Organisational leaders who show gratitude to staff don’t demonstrate weakness but integrity.
You may also be thinking that implementing this is too p.c. or woolly, but it turns out that saying thank you to your boss and co-workers is pretty powerful. It doesn’t have to cost anything, but huge benefits will accrue to you later on. Benefactors of your gratitude are more likely to generate repeat business, provide assistance in difficult matters, stay late to help out or consider you for a promotion.
As such it is productive to spend a couple of minutes each week recalling those people whose help you have appreciated, as well as ways that you might express your gratitude. Perhaps you might send a thank you note to your boss showing your appreciation for allowing you to leave early to take a sick child to the dentist, or simply saying thanks when you see the cleaner in the office. No matter how you choose to say thank you the benefits will accrue over your entire career in law.
As a legal recruiter I always appreciate it when a candidate says thanks after I have assisted them in advancing their career. It is also great to be thanked by clients who have appreciated my help in finding just the right person for a key role.
Remember, you may have to take the first step and express a little gratitude first. Thanking others simply because a difficult matter is complete, or you feel put on the spot, won’t necessarily do any good. Any gratitude needs to be genuine. So rather than offering a general thank you during a meeting, be specific. Say “I’d like to thank John for staying late last night in order to complete that urgent litigation research”. In some situations, a private thank you might be more meaningful than a public declaration. In such cases you might send an email just to show your appreciation, or write a simple thank you note by hand and leave it on their desk.
From my own experience many workers in law are thinking about how unappreciated they are. Quite often key employees seek greener pastures, not because of renumeration, but because they feel under appreciated.
Saying “Thank You” at work matters.