It can be difficult to ask for help from your colleagues, friends or family. You do not want to feel like you are taking advantage of them. There is a way to inspire others to want to help without putting anyone an uncomfortable position. What is it? It is an expression of gratitude: Thank You.
Giving thanks is simple yet powerful. “Thank you” shows your gratitude. What motivates others is knowing that their time and efforts are appreciated. Successful people know to always say “thank you” because they realize that their own success is based on the assistance of others. And people want to help appreciative individuals to succeed. Here are six ways to thank others that will inspire them to further help you and your career:
1. Share how their support helped you.
When thanking someone for their help, share with them the outcome. For example, you needed help brainstorming a project and your colleague introduced you to someone she felt would be a great ideas person — tell your colleague that you had the opportunity to speak with that person and she offered a couple of great ideas on an innovative solution. You’d be amazed at how many people fail to loop back and tell the recommender how it went. And it is this type of information that will help her understand the type of support you need moving forward.
2. Provide a recommendation.
In thanking your colleague, provide a recommendation. You can do this on LinkedIn or compose a letter or email that they can have on hand to use when they need it. People will remember when you do something nice.
Your recommendation is valuable to both the other person and to you. The relationship that a reference highlights can demonstrate your leadership skills and ability to work with and manage others.
3. Give them a snapshot of what you are up to.
If someone helps you, they are invested in you. So they want to know what you are up to. Leverage this opportunity to tell them about your current priorities.
For instance, your colleague sends you an article on the energy industry that she thinks might interest you. While thanking her for sharing the article, you can tell her that you are considering opportunities to sit on a board in that industry. Now that your colleague knows, she may forward opportunities to you.
4. Reciprocate: Show your interest in a particular project.
While expressing thanks for their help, take the opportunity to focus on them and their needs. Ask what they are up to and if they are working on any particular tasks or priorities. The more information you learn, the more likely you could offer help to them and add value. If you want others to help you move forward, you need to help them, too, and not just be (as organizational psychologist Adam Grant calls) a “taker.”
5. Be warm.
Thanking someone is your expression of appreciation. It stems from your feeling of gratitude. It is personal. So don’t be afraid to be personal and warm. In fact, being too formal or rigid in your language can defeat the purpose of a “thank you.” A “thank you” is supposed to make the other person feel good. It is difficult to accomplish this if the language you use is impersonal or detached.
Author and poet Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you make people feel good, they will be inclined to help you more.
6. Be brief.
When saying “thank you,” do not go into too much detail or provide long-winded explanations. Don’t pour your heart out. Express your gratitude in a couple of minutes, if done in person, or in one or two succinct paragraphs, if in writing.
The more you repeatedly say “thank you” and try different ways of expressing it, the less meaning it has. Do not let the power of your appreciation get lost in the verbiage. Saying “thank you” too much can also make you look and sound desperate. People generally do not feel inspired to help desperate people.
Successful people understand the power of “thank you.” Their gratitude is what makes others want to help them without having to always ask for it. The next time you want to thank someone, consider these six things and you may never again have to ask for more help.