Depending on how much food you ate or money you spent this Thanksgiving weekend you may be more or less inclined to give more thanks. However, a simple ‘thank you’ is a powerful career move in a wide variety of situations from job interviews to negotiation to ongoing career management. Here are 10 ways giving thanks helps your career:
Identifying your priorities
The first step in identifying your best next career move is to figure out your priorities. What is most meaningful about your work and what is missing? Then shore up the strong areas and fill the voids. You can identify your priorities based on what you’re most grateful for. The more specific you can be, the more clarity you’ll get. If a good relationship with your boss is something you’re grateful for, what exactly is it about your boss that you appreciate? Is it feedback you get? Autonomy? Support on your career goals? Advocacy in bonuses, resources, etc? Encourage the good stuff.
Diffusing a difficult conversation
If upon reflecting on what works and what doesn’t, you find more things you aren’t thankful for, then you probably have a difficult conversation in your near future as you ask for what you need. Saying thank you for what’s going well is critical in a difficult conversation to help diffuse the tension and to remind the other person that you’re on the same side about some things, maybe even most things.
Following up with a networking contact
Saying thank you is not only useful for difficult conversations but your ongoing networking communications as well. A thank you note is another point of contact for those professional relationships you want to develop: thank you for the exploratory meeting or job interview; thank you to the organizer of a conference; thank you to the speaker at an event. A personalized note that comments on something the other person said shows you were impacted by the interaction. An insight or follow-up suggestion shows that you have something more to add to the relationship.
Curating your social media
You probably also do a lot of networking on social media, and thanking someone for their post or insight is another way of interacting. Since your call-outs and comments show up on your activity feed, thank you also becomes a way of curating and sharing your interests and expertise. This can be especially useful for a career changer who wants to demonstrate knowledge in an area outside of their day-to-day. Curating expertise is also useful for the job seeker who wants to show s/he has stayed up-to-date on an area of expertise.
Softening a negative interview question
Thank you is useful in a variety of job search situations, including the two already mentioned (curating expertise and following up after an interview) and in the job interview itself when you get a negatively framed interview question. Who was your least favorite boss? What was your least favorite project? Tell me about a difficult client. When you get a negative interview question, you don’t want to go negative and get lured into complaining or judging. Use ‘thank you’ as a trigger to find the positive or at least the lesson in the situation and lead with that, while still answering the question. I’ve learned a lot from each of my bosses, so I am grateful for all my experiences. I did have a boss who reacted to busy times by yelling – I work best with less volatility, though thanks to that experience, I am so much better now at not taking things personally…
Closing an interview
Of course, you want an explicit ‘thank you’ to come up by the end of a job interview. As you wind down the meeting, thank the interviewer for the time as a courtesy. Thank the interviewer for any information s/he shared about the role or company – this shows you were actively listening. Thank the interviewer to convey your enthusiasm – thank them for their consideration and remind them of your interest in speaking again.
Getting yourself motivated
I had an acting teacher who gave a great tip for an audition (which is really just a job interview but for a performer!): think about one great thing that happened today, in the last few days and in the last few weeks. This serves two purposes: 1) in the small talk before the audition, when you’re invariably asked how things are going, you have something enthusiastic to say; and 2) for your own psyche, reminding yourself of the good things will put you in a motivated state. With auditions (and job interviews) you have a very short time to make an impression and you have to convey high energy and enthusiasm from the start. But you may have had a tough commute in, or maybe it’s raining which always brings you down, or it’s been a stressful last few days. Use your gratitude list as a trigger to get yourself into audition (or interview) mode.
Keeping yourself motivated
There will be more interviews than just this one, as well as more networking meetings, applications, and hopefully negotiation conversations as you move closer to an offer. Your gratitude list can also keep you motivated over the ups and downs of your job search. Keeping track of your wins also has the practical benefit of recording what is working so you can do more of that.
Emphasizing agreement in a negotiation
Hopefully all of your job search efforts culminate in an offer, and giving thanks plays a part here too in the negotiation stage. When you negotiate, you are trying to iron out points of disagreement – e.g., salary, start date, equity participation, etc. However, you want to emphasize points of agreement as well to remind the other person that you’re on the same side and working towards the same ultimate goal (i.e., for you to join the company). So before you jump into the thorny details, give a big ‘thank you’ for the offer, for the opportunity to collaborate, for the exciting journey you’re both about to take. Similar to diffusing a difficult conversation, a ‘thank you’ in a negotiation puts both parties in an agreement focus.
Giving thanks is not just for the holidays but for your job search and ongoing career. How can you say ‘thank you’ more often?
This article was written by Caroline Ceniza-Levine from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.