Squeezing in Appreciation

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In the hustle and bustle of daily life, especially this time of year, it’s easy to take for granted all of the blessings I’ve been given. I have so many things to be thankful for — three gorgeous, healthy, happy kids; a loving husband; parents and three sisters that I get to see regularly and many good friends I can rely on. My business is thriving and there are many wonderful and exciting things on the horizon.

As a society, we could all be better at giving thanks to those around us. Not just for family and friends or gifts bestowed upon us, but also for the small acts of kindness that we receive each day. We’re often quick to talk about the bad, but sometimes fall short of recognizing the good. Of course with the holidays upon us, it’s a great time to renew our commitment to giving thanks. By taking the time to show gratitude to others, we can brighten their day, set an example to others and set ourselves apart as a class act.

The handwritten note

There is nothing more sophisticated than a handwritten note of thanks. In today’s on-demand, instantaneous contact, electronically connected world, a handwritten note of appreciation stands out. Admittedly, phone calls, text messages and e-mails are quicker and more convenient, but taking the time to write a note is well worth the effort. Many people I talk to are intimidated by the thought of putting pen to paper. Some are concerned that their handwriting isn’t nice enough, and others express uncertainty in knowing what to write. While both of these concerns are understandable, it’s important to remember that part of the charm of a handwritten note is the effort and thoughtfulness that went into it.

Sometimes, it’s all in the packaging, so find note cards that reflect your personality. Cards with poignant sayings on the front, or a picture (in good taste, of course) that will make the recipient chuckle are always good choices. Perhaps you’re more traditional; then, a nice heavy linen personalized with your name may be more your style.

From recycled to whimsical, the perfect cards are available at a variety of locations. You can find them on the Internet, at boutiques, chain supermarkets and everywhere in between. I like to shop locally and have found some of my favorites at area book stores and discount stores. If you’re writing a business thank you note, I recommend using a heavy weight card with your corporate logo. Regardless of what card you go with, writing with blue or black ink is the best choice to make certain that your recipient will be able to easily read it.

It’s called a note for a reason, so be short, sweet and to the point. You don’t have to be witty or utilize flowery, highbrow language. Use a proper salutation, a few sentences expressing your sincere gratitude and an appropriate closing followed by your signature. I recommend the book 101 Ways to Say Thank You: Notes of Gratitude for All Occasions to anyone that has apprehensions about writing notes.

A kind word of thanks

I’m often surprised how many times I see small acts of kindness go unacknowledged. Perhaps we’re all so absorbed in our own heads that we failed to notice that another held the elevator to make sure we could get on. Maybe we feel like it’s the duty of the person in front of us to hold the door for us to walk through or that we are entitled to cut in front of other cars as we pull onto a crowded street … I’m not sure. What I do know is that a kind smile or thank you can make another person’s day. Consider it a way of reinforcing good behavior if you must, but pay attention to the response the next time you give someone an earnest “thank you so much” for a small gesture.

I love the quote by Plato, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Connecting with people in this most simple way is what life is all about. Acknowledging thoughtfulness on the part of, or sometimes just the sheer existence of, others can make both of your burdens seem a little lighter — even if only temporarily.

The next time the cashier that is ringing up your groceries greets you with a smile and asks “How are you?” genuinely thank him or her for inquiring. When you receive exceptional service while dining out, ask to see the manager so you can dole out your praise. Tell an employee how much you appreciate that you can always count on them to be on time. I’m confident that you will find the opportunities to say thank you are endless and that offering thanks makes you feel great.

My thanks goes to each of you who took time out of your busy day to read this column. I appreciate your willingness to spend a few moments with me.


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Tags: appreciation, expressing appreciation, in her shoes, mieshel, shelley davis mielock, shelley mielock, thank you, thank-you note

Shelley Davis Mielock

Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.