You know that saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Well it’s not true. There’s a phrase that comes in handy for most any occasion or incident when something not-so-nice has been said: “Thank you.”  Here are a few examples.

We have an associate who has the good habit of saying “Thank you” often and at unexpected times. Even when she receives negative feedback, she says, “Thank you.” There’s never any sense of defensiveness, never any denial, just “Thank you, I’ll get right on it.” When we hear her respond in that way, it’s so pleasant and refreshing.

In our homes, both of our families have created a list of “Family Rules.” One of them is, “When you feel like complaining, say ‘Thank you’ instead.” This works great, especially for children who tend to grump about every little thing that doesn’t go their way. When they know that the Family Rule is to say “Thank you” before complaining about not having or liking this or that, it changes their mindset to one of being grateful for what they do have rather than what they don’t have.

Saying “Thank you” is a great PR tactic in business too. Sure, we all know that we should regularly thank our customers, employees, vendors, and other associates for all the good things they do for our companies. But what about the instances in which things get challenging or uncomfortable? There are times when no matter what you do, you’re unable to appease a dissatisfied customer or come to an agreement with a colleague.   Instead of arguing, thank them for being honest and for sharing their feedback, and then agree to disagree in a way that is appropriate for your situation. The key to making “Thank you” work for you is to genuinely mean it (not just say it), and to walk away from the conversation being fine with not agreeing. You may not be able to give all of your constituents exactly what they want, but coming to the table with a positive, thankful mindset can do wonders for your business.

Saying “Thank you” is a key message we can all work into our daily business and personal lives.  Try it in this season of Thanksgiving, make it a habit, and see the good changes it brings about.

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