Oswald Letter

Don’t hesitate to tell your coworkers how much they mean to you

by Dan Oswald

Sunday was Valentine’s Day. Here’s hoping you got to spend it with loved ones. My wife and I traveled to visit our daughter at college and got to spend the day with her. It was a good day and everything I could ask for to celebrate my February holiday. Thanks

I remember as a kid taking Valentine’s cards to school and giving them to classmates. Every kid in the class would come home with a bag full of cards. I was thinking it might not be a bad idea to have a version of Valentine’s Day at work. No, I’m not suggesting we make a work tradition of sending a card to a person we are romantically attracted to. That’s a recipe for disaster—and a few lawsuits.

But what about a day when we give our coworkers cards of thanks or appreciation for things they have done that helped us at work or even personally? What if we took one day each year to tell those we work with how much we appreciate what they do to help us succeed the other 364 days of the year? I’m sure it wouldn’t rival Valentine’s Day, but it certainly could have a positive impact on our relationships with our coworkers.

How often do you take the time to thank the people you work with? Does a day go by that you don’t tell others that you appreciate them or something they have done to help you in your job? It shouldn’t. None of us do what we do every day without some help from others. It might be something big that someone does to make your job easier, or it could be something small that could easily go unnoticed, but we all get help from those around us at some point during the day. We should make sure we show our appreciation for those efforts, both big and small.

As a guy, sometimes it’s hard to come up with ideas for gifts for Valentine’s Day. Sure—flowers, candy, and a card are the old standbys, but they aren’t very creative. Likewise, you might be thinking that it’s tough to come up with ways to show your appreciation for coworkers other than a simple “thank you,” but here are a few ideas:

  1. Grab donuts or a few bagels for a coworker who has helped you out. In fact, grab enough for the whole team. It will give you the opportunity to show appreciation for something the recipients have done to help you out.
  2. Send a “thank-you” to the spouse or significant other of someone who has been helpful to you at work. A short note extolling the greatness of your coworker and their partner is a great way to communicate your appreciation. Often, people don’t know how their spouse or partner is perceived at work, but a few kind words can mean a lot to both the person you work with and the person he or she shares a life with.
  3. Pick up a gift card to Starbucks or a local sandwich shop. The card, along with a short note that tells the person what you really appreciate, will let him or her know that what they do matters to you.
  4. Thank the person publicly in your next staff meeting. The appreciation doesn’t always have to be private. A public “thank you” allows the person to get recognition in front of his or her colleagues. Letting everyone know that you value what others do to help you sends the right message to the entire team.

There are a lot of ways you can show people that you appreciate them. No matter how you choose to show them your appreciation, just remember the most important thing is that you show them you are thankful for what they do to assist you in your work. Don’t avoid saying “thank you” because you aren’t sure of the best way to do it. However you choose to say it will be better than saying nothing at all.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
—William Arthur Ward