Beware a Thank You, It could be Cathartic.

In my family, for three generations that I know of, thank you comments make us squirm.  We have been raised to do our job, even if it could kill you, and for some of us, it could.  We rarely expect our motivation to come from the praise of others, we do it because it is required, it is necessary, and it is important to who we are.

But, in this case, what she said caught me by surprise.  When someone says thank you, normally it is diminutive, does not examine the activity, the import, nor the impact of the decisions, nor what else was competing, and the behind the scenes circumstances.  I have found that the impact and acceptance of “thank you” becomes more powerful and impacts the person being acknowledged as the speaker prefaces the Thank You.

In my client’s case, as she was ending the conversation, she asked how Carleton’s health was.  I had limited my discussion with most clients about Carleton to Facebook postings, for basic information, and to keep my personal life issues out of my professional relationships.  She recognized that I have spent a significant time in the last three months attending to issues that arose related to Carleton’s health.  She appreciated the hours, extra efforts, weekend conversations.  She understood her demands along with the crazy changes at the office, but I had exceeded her expectation.

Then it happened.  She slipped one sentence into that cordial requisite Thank You and changed it and impacted me.  She simply said, “I know you have been facing some serious issues and I wanted to personally thank you for taking your time to make things serious things happen for me.  I had to tear you away from very important priorities, I may never understand the cost, but I want to thank you for what you did for me.   

Wow. 

I had to get off the phone (yes, mom, you would identify.) 

If I were poetic, I would say this of exceptional Thank You messages.  An important Thank You will:

Recognize Specific Effort

Catch the essence of the Cost

Explain the Impact of the Action

And

Deliver Emotional Clarity.

In less than a minute, this client touched her challenges, my efforts, my personal challenge, and the competing interest difficulties, and in that thank you, acknowledged the potential cost of serving her.

The reason I wept as I hung up the phone.  Simple, she gave me a gift.  Her thank you confirmed my decisions.  She confirmed that I could continue to exceed the expectations of others to help them achieve dreams we cannot achieve alone and continue to support those I love.

I believe a thought out, carefully considered thank you encourages the hopeless, gives confidence to the uncertain.  It gives courage to the embattled.  And a powerful thank you can touch the deepest reservoirs of power in the weakest of bodies, bringing joy, peace, and resolve.

Her thank you breached my walls of professional and personal defenses, inspired hope in a dark morning, releasing stored tears of imperfection executed, overwhelming crisis care and unending frustration to heal the hopelessness that weighs against grief.  The resulting tears carried anger, stress, and rage out of me, leaving only relief and peace.  Stress and anger slipped past my eyes and her Thank You crashed tears into the deeper lines of worry and concern to carry any bitterness far from my soul.

For me, it was Cathartic.  A thank you simply shows you, easily, that you do matter, it is important to someone, and yes, dammit, someone today, does care.  And, sometimes, those little things have a stronger impact or have a way of stopping you in your tracks.  And, sometimes, it helps significantly.

Perhaps that is why my family, for generations, has been wary of Thank You.  You never know when you will receive one and the emotional response will overwhelm you to continue to do what you do best.  And, would not the world be a better place if more unsuspecting Thank You messages were sent, person to person, considering their efforts, the impact on you, and the cost it had to them.  It would certainly make us more human, and perhaps a little bit more humane.

Success working with a client, A thank you, a cry, enlightenment, and the feeling that life is a little lighter today.   That is a result of one Thank You.  And, to my client who gave it, simply, gently and with deep appreciation, I say, you may never read this or understand the effect that it had, but it made me cry, it encouraged me to continue to stand, and it energized me to share a Thank you in return.  A deep heart felt, yes you impacted me today, thank you.