The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.


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Have You Said Thank You Lately?

If not, today is definitely the day to do it.  It’s National Thank you Day!

Sometimes I think that there are holiday’s custom-made for The Appreciation Factor, and if so, this is surely one of them.   As one of the biggest proponents of expressing my appreciation and saying thanks, this day speaks volumes. Of course, for those of you who know me well, we shouldn’t require a “holiday” dedicated to appreciation to be the only time and/or reason to say thanks, but if it helps… I’ll take it!

Does Saying Thanks Make a Difference?

Saying thank you is powerful.  It can bring joy.  It can immediately disarm someone who’s feeling under appreciated.  It can also provide validation for the hard work.  I even read a great article that said showing appreciation to your employees will subconsciously make them work harder for you and increase their longevity at the company.  I know I try harder when a boss has told me that I’ve done a good job.

I think this is why it always puzzles me when these comments come up, “You’re paid to do a good job,” and “They are supposed to do X so why should I thank them?”   I don’t ever think that monetary compensation or the fact that a task/chore is something a person is supposed to do should be a reason not say thank you. Nor do I think that others always intuitively know that you are grateful unless you say something.  People thrive on praise and often strive to feel worthy. Saying thank you or sending a thank you note is a great way to acknowledge their help, and to help them achieve those goals.

 

Thanks Aren’t Necessary…. That’s probably not 100% True

I’m sure you’ve met someone who’s said, “It’s OK, I don’t need any thanks,” but likely it’s not 100% true. If you agree with Dr. Laura Trice (in the TED Talk below), people may say this simply because admitting that they need and want to feel appreciated and praised would be sharing their deep-seeded insecurities/needs.  I would propose that these people would appreciate it if you  shared your gratitude for the help, support, or kind act.

 

On this National Thank You Day, I’m pledging to write and/or say thank you to those who are making a difference in my life, supporting my goals I’m also going to make sure that I go out of my way to thank those for the simpler things, like the stranger who holds the door for you, or the librarian who took a few extra minutes to help find that “must read book”.  So how about it?  Today on #NationalThankYouDay take that extra minute and say thanks.  I KNOW it will make a difference in someone’s day.

And a tip:  If you’re on the receiving end, be sure to say “You’re Welcome.” So often we counter with “No problem,” “It’s OK,” or “Don’t Worry About it,” but whatever we’ve done did help someone and it make a difference.  So it’s better to graciously acknowledge the thanks and move on.

 

Want to Make Your Thank You Extra Special?  

Send a handwritten thank you note. (Always my preferred method of showing gratitude.)  These are some of the cards I’m using these days.  Many have “Thank you” incorporated on the card itself, but if you recall Janet Parnes, the etiquette expert’s advice it’s actually better to NOT have “Thank you” imprinted. So I sometimes use these lovely gold embossed initial cards below that I received for Christmas.

 

 

 

Card Details:

Thanks a Ton:  This cutie is from Red + Wolfe, an eco-friendly paper company that gives $1 per card sold to wildlife conservation. For all of you Bostonian followers, this owner/maker, Rachel Mott sells her cards at SOWA markets and at several specialty boutiques in the South End. (I’m planning to feature her in the blog soon so keep a look out).

 

Thank You with gold embossed starfish: Picked up these gems at #Marshalls.  They’re a part of Graphic de France’s La Petite Presse line.  They are so cute that I almost hated to use them!

 

Gold Hand Engraved Initial K:  Available in every letter of the alphabet, these are from Crane 

 

 

**Need tips on writing a powerful thank you note? Check out this post or this one.

What is the most memorable thank you you’ve ever received?
Do you have a go to card/stationery/shop you turn to when you write a thank you note?

I’m always looking for new options!


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Thankful Thursdays the March 30th Edition

Squeaking in a Thankful Thursdays edition. Thankful Thursdays Logo
With so much activity on the world-wide web and social media these days it’s great to see that kindness, positive words, and ways to show appreciation are still out there.  

I know that a couple of these stories happened a little while ago, but truly when you think about it, when is showing appreciation, gratitude or kindness EVER out of date?  Maybe one will inspire someone for next year.

So without further ado… Here are some great links I’ve found that support Thankful Thursdays – stories, people, companies, and videos that move me and which exemplify appreciation, or those making a difference in our world.

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Thankful Thursdays the January 19th Edition

Happy Thankful Thursday my wonderful followers.  I also wish you a Happy 2017. Still can’t believe it’s 2017!Thankful Thursdays Logo

It’s true what they say, the years do fly by faster as you get older, BUT we still need to make and take the time to be grateful and show kindness.

 

 

I thought for this Thankful Thursday, I would share some links that I’ve been seeing and things that I’ve been doing around gratitude. I’ve really seen an influx of ideas this January as well as a BIG push for “writing” thank you notes — It makes me excited and grateful.  I think starting out the new year with these good intentions is a great way to go, as the new year can really be challenging and overwhelm for some people. This helps put your priorities in a good place.

 

52 Things in 52 Weeks

This year, in addition to creating a 52 things in 52 weeks list (a much more manageable task than I think the 101 things in 1001 days I tried before), I’ve committed myself to several things around showing gratitude. Here are just a few on my list:

  1. Write at least 3 things per week that I’m grateful for – this has proved to be a little harder. Not so much as in coming up with things, but remembering to write them down!!
  2. Write 52 Thank you or Just Because notes – I’m on track having written 6 already!  I want to get better at writing more just because ones!
  3. Volunteer for 5 Events w/ increased contribution over 2016
  4. Splurge on flowers for myself 1x/month – a little bit of self gratitude can go a long way!
  5. Complete 365 Rock Your Happy Challenge
  6. Complete a 100HappyDaysChallenge in words/pictures

BTW: I got the amazing idea for 52 things in 52 week from the L is for Lucy blog.  Here’s her 2017 list.  Want to make your own?  I don’t think it’s too late to do it as 1. You can likely knock off more than 1 in 1 week for a few weeks OR who’s to say when your 52 weeks must start. Maybe you like to start anew in February or in your birthday month!

 

 

365 Rock Your Happy Challenge

You might notice #5 that talks about the 365 Rock Yourself Happy Challenge.  This is a great challenge by Bree of Baked Bree and Kristen of @dineanddish.  Each week, I get 7 tasks, one for each day, to complete.  “The prompts are little things that are doable, simple, and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes each day. As they say, “Little things that potentially can have a huge impact in our everyday lives.””
Tasks range from doing things for yourself to prompts of doing things for other people.   I signed up as I wanted to start making small changes that make me happier and I was even MORE pleased when I saw how many acts of kindness and gratitude that they include each week. It’s a win win for me.

Definitely consider signing up for this 

 

 

Happify Happiness Compliment Chain

The Happiness Compliment Chain is a site I found via my #365RockYourSelfHappyChallenge.  Developed by Happify, it’s one of the easiest ways to brighten your day and someone else’s.  The idea is centered around sending a genuine compliment (in note form) to someone and thereby creating a Kindness Chain.  Happify’s thought is that “kindness is contagious and we want to make it easy to spread.”  The Kindness Chain is set up to reach numerous people. Here are some compliment “messages” you can choose from. Once you select the one you like, you have the option to write your own messages or use their template version (See the sample below.)

pic courtesy of happify.com

fill-in-the-blanks

 

I’ve sent 8 already — just sent another one while writing this post.  It is kind of contagious.

 

 

Pictures courtesy of happify.com

 

 

Connect with someone you love

This is a great idea that requires intention and mindfulness.  You may need to “schedule” it until it becomes a habit.
Per Camille Styles one of the top 10 successful and happy women do each morning is connect with someone they love each day.  Her suggestions: “Whether it’s a breakfast date with your partner or a tickle session with your kids, connecting with someone you love first thing will set your priorities and remind you of what’s really important. Even if the morning is really busy, try to sit down for a few minutes over breakfast and talk about what’s going on in each others’ lives.
I love this idea.

 

 

Performing Random Acts of Kindness

If you’ve been following me long (It will be 5 years in 2 weeks!!), you know that I’m a HUGE supporter of performing Random Acts of Kindness aka #ROAKs.   Sometimes the challenge with these can be the lack of ideas of how to execute one.  Well fret no more.  In this week’s #365RockYourselfHappyChallenge I am tasked with “Doing a Good Deed.”  Fortunately I had something in mind, but the girls provided me with this link to The Random Acts of Kindness Blog. How I didn’t see this particular site before when I’ve promoted ROAKs, I don’t know, but it’s amazing!

Some “topics” you can choose from:

  • Ideas You Can Do with Your Family
  • Ideas for Strangers
  • Things to Do at Work
  • Things to do Online
  • Sports

I was pretty impressed with the Sports option on myself. (These include cleaning gym equipment and cheering on a teammate).  I think I would add, “Make a sign cheering someone on,” or “Wishing him/her good luck before the game.”  The other idea I can’t wait to try is donating books to (in my case) a Little Free Library and a year of thank you notes (as listed in my 52 things list.)

ANYONE can perform a random act of kindness and it really does make a difference in your life and to those you’ve done it for.

 

Other things worth noting

On LinkedIn I’m seeing a growing number of articles that promote the Handwritten Thank you note. Just today I read one by  in reference to meeting for Coffee. Check it out here.
Not sure how to write one? Check out my detailed posts here (Why you should hand write them) and here (Tips on writing a memorable thank you note).

Did you notice all of the brands/companies that sent Thank you Emails or had an “Thank-you” message as a stand-alone commercial during the holidays and in the first few weeks of this year? I did, and I was impressed. I’m definitely more inclined to shop at a store that appreciates me.

 

What additional ideas do you have for sharing kindness, happiness and gratitude?
I’d love to hear them and share them in an upcoming Thankful Thursday’s issue!
Drop me a note or comment below.


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Appreciation… What’s In it for Me

Did you know that today, January 31st, marks The Appreciation Factor’s 4th Anniversary? Hard to believe that I reached this goal – sometimes harder to believe that I’ve published over 70 posts on the subject. While passionate about appreciation, ensuring fresh content and keeping you my followers interested and more importantly providing content that may make you pause and think about something in a new way, that pursuit can sometimes be challenging.

I recently started a new job which took me away from the blog, and I’m sorry if I’ve seemed MIA. Still you were never far from my mind as I would think – “OH I need write a post!” The next thought, “What should I write about?” It was a struggle this past month for sure.

No less passionate, about appreciation, I wondered, what could I write about and of course today, in the wee hours of the am, it came to me – how appreciation can fit into your life… or Appreciation, what’s in it for me?

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It’s National Thank You Note Day – I’m Celebrating with Janet Parnes

It’s that time of year where you may already be writing thank you notes for the generosity of those around you, but did you know there’s an actual “holiday” for Thank you notes?
Yep it’s December 26th!  I think it was created as it’s a reminder to get your thank you notes out ASAP after the holidays. (hint hint)

Not to worry I’m here to help.  To celebrate National Thank you Day, I’ve recruited my friend, Janet Parnes, Owner and Etiquette Consultant at Etiquette for Today.  I’m having her share her tips on writing a Thank you note. (I thought it would be great to have someone who counsels these tips to others already, weigh in at The Appreciation Factor.  Plus I’m excited to meet someone who values saying “thank you” as much as I do!)

Before we get to the tips, I thought I’d share a little bit about Janet.

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Revered or Distained Writing the Interview Thank You Note by Hand

Recently I went on 12 interviews over the course of three days.  If we’re looking at good etiquette that’s 12 handwritten thank you notes due within 24 hours of the interviews.

Lest you think I’m complaining sharing this quantity, I was not.  I was extremely grateful and definitely encouraged and motivated by these opportunities… especially since two companies were ones I’d long admired, and held dream opportunities.

When it rains it pours – I think it truly does when it comes to good fortune.
Once I started setting up interviews, several more came up. 

My advice: Ride that positive wave when it’s presented to you.

I know, I know. Many of you think I should have simply thought of taking care of these via quick Emails simply saying, “thank you for your time and consideration yada yada yada.

In fact, at one interview where the manager did not have a business card, her colleague quickly chimed in, “Email me and I’ll forward her Email to you.”  YIKES!  I may have blanched slightly when she said this.  While her offer was kind, sending a thank you note via Email is really not me. I think that hand writing these notes shows extra care and your attention to detail.

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Mike the Mailman Just Went Postal on Our Hearts – A Repost Courtesey of the Kindness Blog

As I’ve extolled the beauty/benefits of Thank You Notes, I have to love it when someone who usually would should receive them takes the time to send one of his own. It’s clear Mike is a true class act. I wish him the best.

Sigh… I remember when I had a great mailman whom I genuinely looked forward to seeing and who genuinely seemed to love his job and the customers on his route.

Source:
This is from a new blog, the Kindness Blog that I discovered this week – you’ll likely see more links from them via future Thankful Thursday’s issues –it’s THAT good!. Many thanks to them for sharing more of the good in this world. We can all be reminded of kindness and gratitude each day.

Have you ever received a thank you note from your mailman or someone in customer service OR someone you would typically be thanking? What was the occasion? Please shared I’d love to hear.

Kindness Blog

“For as long as I have lived in my house, (I) always thought the Mailman was very nice. He put this in the mailbox.

Mike the Mailman Just Went Postal on Our Hearts.Reminds me that there are good warm people in all walks of life.”

~ by g3tyasum


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What if You’re Not “Thankful”?

I’ve written posts at The Appreciation Factor about why you should write thank you notes, and provided tips on writing business and personal thank you notes. However I’ve recently been asked about what to do when you know you should write one, but aren’t 100% thankful.

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Tips on Writing a Memorable Personal Thank You Note

I know you were on the edge of your seat waiting, well maybe not, but today I’m sharing the 3rd and final installment of Why Do We Say Thank You – the Personal Thank You note.

If you think about it, it’s quite timely, as January is National Thank You Month – a “celebration” which clearly has a special place in The Appreciation Factor’s heart.  (I promised I’d keep reminding you.)  I’m sharing “no-fail” tips that you can use to write a great personalized Thank You note.  I also wanted to share a great resource I found to write not only Thank You notes, but notes for all occasions, it’s Just a Note to Say… by Florence Isaacs.

Just a Note to Say…  What a great book. I can’t say enough.  I loved it so much that I even read it cover to cover.  I initially purchased it to see if I could pick up some additional tips for this post, I did and then Just a Note to Saysome.  Isaacs’ approach is to truly think about the topic at hand and what it means/meant to you and how it makes/made you feel.  Whether it is a Thank You note (gifts, hospitality, weddings, baby gifts);  a Condolence letter (deaths, divorce); the Holiday greeting; or Get-Well Wishes (she even covers how to address severely ill friends and family), her more personalized approach ensures that your message is both memorable, and just the right thing to say at that moment. There are more topics than I’ve listed so I definitely recommend picking it up. (You can order it here.)

 

In my first installment, I talked about why we should say thank you.  In the second, I shared how the Business Thank You note can win you a job, generate more business and is simply a classy thing to do.  In this post, I’m sharing some tips on how to write a memorable Personal Thank You note.

Personal Thank You notes are a great opportunity to share how much that gift, thoughtful action or favor meant to you.  Taking the time to hand write a thoughtful message that calls out how his/her efforts makes the recipient feel special and remembered for his/her kind gesture.  If this doesn’t sway you, think about how you would feel if you didn’t receive one. You might feel slighted or unappreciated.  The old mantra holds true in my book, “If someone can take the time to buy you a present or help you out, the least you can do is sit down for a few minutes and write a Thank You note.

Here are The Appreciation Factors 7 Tips on writing a Thank You note that will be appreciated each and every time! (I did take some cues from Isaacs too!)

1.  Hand Write It

 I’ve spoken on this “topic” several times.  So quickly…  Electronic emails and texts (HORROR!) can get lost in the transmission or even in the sheer volume each of us receives every day, not to mention how impersonal it is. Enough said!

2.  Write Conversationally & Be You

This one is from Isaacs:  You don’t have to be a published writer to write a caring note.  As she says, “Just speak sincerely and in your own authentic voice. A meaningful note sounds like the person who wrote it – real and natural.”

 

3.  KISS (Keep it Short and Simple)

You don’t have to write on and on.  If you write too much it’s likely to not sound sincere.  The average Thank You note is only made up of 4-5 lines.

4.  Focus on What was Given or Done

Ask yourself, what made what he/she did or gave to you important when you’re thanking him/her vs. simply saying, “Thanks for (the) _insert help/gift here_.”
Did they watch your child(ren) when you had to run out on an errand or for appointment?  Did she stay on the phone with you for the 14th time as you bemoaned the loss of a boy/girlfriend? Did you receive the most beautiful accessory that you didn’t know you needed, but adds that extra touch to your interview/date-night outfit?  Tell them and be sure to be sincere.

Here’s are two samples using an approach I learned from Isaacs:
“Lauren, Thank you so much for the beautiful Swarovski two-toned bracelet. I couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful piece of jewelry that truly goes with my entire wardrobe. You really know my style!”

“Tony, I really couldn’t have made the cookies for Friday’s bake sale if you hadn’t had graciously watched Pat and Sue for that hour while I ran out to get the sugar! I’m still not sure how I forgot the most important ingredient!”

5. Reiterate Your Appreciation Before Closing the Note

A simple close like: “Thank you again for your generous gift.” OR “Thanks again for lending an ear when I needed it most.” would work well.

6. The Close/The Sign-off

While many close their notes with “Love” this may not be appropriate for the relationship you have with the recipient.  Isaacs suggests “Warmly,” “Affectionately,” or “Fondly” as alternatives.  In all cases, “Regards” will do if the rest feel too mushy.

7. Send it promptly

Send your note within 24-48 hours.  A week at the latest! (Isaacs allows for 3 months at most for wedding gifts.)
You’ll find that the more time passes, you’ll likely get busy and sending a note will slip your mind.  Hey it happens to all of us!

*The one caveat – It’s always better to send one late than never!  You can even say – “I cannot believe it. I realized that I had not taken a moment to thank you for ________”  I’m so sorry for the delay!”

 

What do you think of my tips?  Do you already use some of them?
Do you have a tip to share or that has worked well for you?
Do you write Thank You Notes?


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You Could Change a Life … or at Least Someone’s Day

As you’ve seen read know by now, I’m/the Appreciation Factor is a huge proponent of writing and sending Thank You notes.  I’m also in support of writing and sending what I call the “Just Because” note.  

I think that we are all affected by one person or another each and every day – and many times in a positive way.  So I ask, why not send a note (a”Just Because” note) to those who we want to reconnect with, those who help us, inspire us, positively challenge us and/or care about us?  I believe that we all can benefit from an unexpected note of cheer if we’re feeling down, going through a challenge or transition, or even be congratulated as reinforcement on a good job.

Now I’m not saying, as my title may allude to, that my or your note is definitely going to save a life, but who knows?  Words are powerful. Perhaps your note will arrive at just the right time to be that force of change, the one thing that changes an attitude, inspires and/or turns things around.  Can you think of a note you’ve received that’s meant a lot to you?  Personally, I have several notes that I carry in my planner.  I have one that recognized me for acting professionally in a very challenging and negative situation, one where I’d sent a gift that was especially meaningful, and another that shared how my actions created a positive reaction in someone else’s life.  I re-read each of them periodically.

My Approach in 2015:

I’m sure you’ve been reading/seen quite a few resolutions online already.  I’ve even seen several resolutions where the writer plans to increase her/his appreciation.  I decided to take things a step further. (As an aside, I don’t set resolutions, I create goals to strive towards.)

One of my goals this year is to “Write 1 note of appreciation/just because note (hand written is preferred*), each week or minimally 2-3 times a month.” 

It’s sounds a bit daunting I know. How many of us find time to keep up with all of the “To Dos” we already have on our plate, let alone adding a task that will take concerted energy, effort and stamps!  As this is in conjunction with my commitment and desire to be even more thoughtful and appreciative in the coming year, I think I will be successful.
(These will be in addition to the Thank You notes I already write after interviews, receiving gifts, going to lunch etc..)

Here are just a few examples of the types of Just Because notes I hope to write (I’m sure more will naturally come to mind as I progress through the year):

  • A note to tell someone how much they’ve inspired me
  • A compliment on a good job – (e.g., a note to our handyman for keeping the property running efficiently)
  • Congratulations on an achievement I’ve heard or read about
  • An “I’m impressed” for someone who acted with integrity through a challenging time
  • Encouragement to a job seeker or friend running/starting their own business
  • “Just because I was thinking of you today” – when something I’ve seen or heard made me think of a friend or colleague or simply just because they are my friend

I’m really looking forward to working on this goal.  I think that even the simple task of finding/buying fun and interesting stationary and blank note cards will add to my success.  Don’t get me a wrong, do I think a call would be a great way to connect and express my sentiment, or even a store-bought greeting (vs. blank) card?  Sure, but I’ve always found that the personalized hand written notes I’ve received have been the most powerful.  I’ve appreciated the extra effort it took to write something and mail it.  In fact, I have several that I keep in my planner that I have read many times over because they’ve meant so much.

Here are some cards I already have on hand. (I’ve tried to list the source or a link to purchase where possible.)

Just Because Cards 2

Clockwise from Left to Right Row by Row. 1. Vineyard Vines Patchwork (Unfortunate Appears to be sold out – Try your local VV shop), 2. Be Optimistic unknown source (picked up at craft fair), 3. Ciao (Unknown was a gift),
4. “It’s My Bag” by Simply K (I make these. Contact me for details.), 5. Anchor Thank you Paperchase, 6. Blank Stationary,
7. Turquoise/Orange Spiral graph Flowers In May (Ask for info as I bought at an outdoor market), and 8. Hey Stranger Paperless Post electronic card.

*My one exception to the hand written note is using an electronic one when I don’t have a mailing address.  My new favorite resource (for those of you who read my post about Electronic Thank You Cards – which I’ve since updated), is Paperless Post.  This is a great free* site that does not limit the number of online cards you can send.  (*The site requires “coins” if you want to send one with an “envelope,” a designer card (e.g., Kate Spade), and for some select categories.  However, upon registration you’ll receive 25 free coins!)  Paperless Post also has the option of  sending your personalized cards as a paper option through the mail.   It’s definitely worth checking out!

*NOTE I am NOT paid nor compensated by Paperless Post. I simply really like using it! Plus they are great listeners when it comes to feedback. A tracking improvement suggestion I made is already in the works!

 

While promising to write a set number of cards per week or month can be too much for most people.  I hope you’ll consider sending out at least a few of these Just Because notes in the coming year.  The time and consideration will definitely make an impact on your recipient, and should she/he say thanks, you’ll hear in their voice how much this extra effort meant to her/him.

Do you already send Just Because notes?   What has prompted you to mail one?  Have you ever received one that resonated with you?  Do you keep it on hand to read again and again?  Think you might try to write some this year?