We’ve all heard the old adage “it’s the thought that counts”. We pull it out when a friend complains about the hot pink plaid sweater he got from his girlfriend for Christmas. Or when a well meaning colleague let’s slip the date of the surprise baby shower you have been planning for weeks to your very pregnant co-worker. Both examples of good intentions gone horribly wrong.
But when you take a step back, “it’s the thought that counts” means so much more.
Take this evening for example. After 11 hours in the office I drove home exhausted, my mind on tomorrow’s meetings. Then I walked in the door to the most wonderful surprise. Nicky, my 12 year old, had made a bouquet of beautiful paper flowers. His thoughtfulness made me smile instantly.
It got me thinking about all the ways you can apply thoughtful gestures at work. After all, most things being equal, people do business with individuals they like. When I gave it some thought, I realized there were examples of thoughtfulness all across my business in just the last two weeks alone.
Forget email, give it a hand written touch – one of our top producing sales reps stopped by my office looking for note cards. He had just come back from a meeting with a prospective client and wanted to write a thank you note. In the land of mass production, this small gesture with a personal reference to the meeting, went a long way towards building trust with this potential client.
Chocolate really is a girl’s best friend – Oh wait, was that supposed to be diamonds? The truth is whether it’s a box of chocolates, a personalized photo album or a donation to a local charity it’s not about how much money you spent, but how well you listened. Thanking someone with a small gift that shows the recipient you remembered how much they loved the chocolate on your desk, or the off hand comment they made about their weekend charity walk, shows you care. It always wins hands down over an impersonal gift. In my case, a client mentioned how much his wife liked good chocolate – as a token of my appreciation for an interview they conducted, a box of my favorite chocolates was on the way – it made for a great surprise.
Show your gratitude publicly – Our sales department has been very busy this week closing quarter end business. With each win an announcement was sent to the sales & marketing team congratulating the sales person. But it was more than a pat on the back to the deal closer. Each note carefully thanked all the individuals who participated to support the deal. Saying thank you is important, but recognizing someone in front of their peers or even just their supervisor goes a long way towards building good will.
I’m very fortunate that there are a dozen other examples I can share but in the interest of time I hope these samples have inspired you to add a little thoughtfulness to your day to day business. It’s remarkably easy, and surprisingly effective.