Mentorship over Coffee, Lesson #3: Learn to Say ‘Thank You’

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...
English: A photo of a cup of coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a child, our parents taught us basic manners like saying “excuse me” when you interrupted a conversation, or saying “please” when you wanted something or “thank you” when you received a compliment. Once we learned these manners, it was something we never thought twice about. Why is the only manner, saying thank you, something we don’t use so easily anymore? Basically, why is it hard for us to say thank you?

When I met with my mentor at Rackspace a few weeks ago, they asked me about how my recent trip to NYC went. I had attended a content marketing conference and accepted an award on behalf of my team. They were so excited for me and asked me all about it. I started with “I felt so young; everyone probably thought I was just a  kid.” I had immediately made a statement on my lack of self confidence at the event. Why did I do this when at the conference, I led the conversation for part of a table discussion and I was called upon to speak during the panel. I clearly was able to hold my own. And when my mentor congratulated me, I said, “I didn’t think it was too big of a deal.” They stopped me and said, “Angela, just say ‘thank you.'” I looked up and thought, duh! Why can’t I just say thank you? Why was I excited to have been going to the conference, did a great job there and then came home with an “eh” type of attitude. I think it has to do with a couple of things. One, I think it’s partially due to my personality. But two, I think it has a lot to do with the implications of how society has picked at us over time.

As we grow from a young child to an adult, so many things can occur to diminish our self confidence. We might have been made fun, told we weren’t smart enough, weren’t pretty enough and so on. When I was in middle school, I recall overhearing a friend talking about me behind my back saying I danced funny. I know that sounds so silly but can you imagine what that did to me? I didn’t want to dance! And when I did, I was so self conscious about it. I never stood up for myself. I took the heat and let mean words eat me up alive. And I know I am not the only one. I know that this is the reason it’s so hard for us to say thank you. It’s because we don’t believe we deserve it. We believe every negative thing someone says about us versus the positive stuff. And worse, the negative stuff is magnified in our minds. It’s sad but true. Think about it. Can you name a time someone said something mean about you? Now trying naming something nice. Harder, huh?

As we closed our discussion, my mentor said, for every negative thought about yourself, name two great things – and, write it down. I haven’t started this yet but I am pretty sure I will. Writing it down is so important because as mentioned before, the positive stuff is harder to remember.

So when someone gives you a compliment, use your manners and just say ‘thank you.’

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