The Anatomy of Appreciation: Tips for Effective Thanks

September 25, 2012 Darcy Jacobsen

There are times that employees and managers need a little guidance on how to do it right.  We’ve talked a bit in the past about coaching managers on when to offer recognition and how to get in the habit, but we haven’t looked specifically at how to actually construct a great recognition message. So here are three quick tips you can give your employees, to help them write a memorable and effective thank you.

1. Avoid Hyperbole and Say What You See

It is okay to be colorful, but if you use language that is too over-the-top, with no supporting evidence, you are likely to cause disbelief or skepticism. Instead, stick to the things you yourself observed and can say with certainty. That will give your praise much more credibility. Also, avoid language that evaluates, judges or defines people, as it may cause them discomfort as they think “No, I’m not…”


Tim – You are the best, most talented and most amazing programmer that ever walked the earth. Thanks!


Tim- You hit it out of the park with the Omega project even with the last-minute time crunch, and you included everything we asked for. I was really impressed with your skill in executing this project. The result was top-notch. Thanks!

2. Be as Specific as Possible

If you want your praise to inspire a repeat performance, then be sure you’re being specific as to what inspired you to give it. This sort of detail will also make the recognition a lot more meaningful to your coworker.


Lucy – Thanks for everything you do. You’re awesome.


Lucy – No matter how small or thankless the task, from keeping the bins stocked for fulfillment to making sure our schedules are always synched, we can rely on you to be on top of the little details–even when they are not part of your job. Thank you for making us great.

3. Make Sure You’re Thanking for the Right Thing

Sometimes we are inspired to thank someone, but we find it hard to articulate exactly why, or we’re in a hurry so we don’t bother. Make sure you take the time to delve a little deeper—really think about what it is that has inspired you to thank, and articulate it. This will give your coworkers a much clearer roadmap for what they are doing right, and will be more convincing.


Ben – You always have a smile for everyone. Thanks for being so nice!


Ben – Your sunny disposition and cheerful outlook in the face of challenges keep our patients’ anxiety low and their satisfaction high. I appreciate being able to count on you to offer positive solution to any issue we face, and your response to last week’s outages was a perfect example of that. Thank you!

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