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Chocolate & Coffee: Saying Thank You in a Way People Understand

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Chocolate and coffee. That's my love language. If you want to thank me, nothing beats dark chocolate, or an Ethiopian coffee bean (preferably of the Sidamo variety.) Financial incentives will get some traction, group recognition may get a smile, and most of my certificates/awards are buried in drawers or boxes somewhere. Chocolate and coffee is where it's at…for me.

We need to know and understand how our teammates want to be thanked. One time I was in a large group at work, and I called attention to one of my coworkers and commended her for doing a great job. As a result, she received many verbal compliments, and I felt great about myself for bringing to light how awesome she was. After the gathering she came up to me and asked me to "never do that again, I'm serious." I quickly turned apologetic, and I assured her it was the first and last time. Then, I thought how she must have felt when I started calling attention to her (sweaty palms), inviting others to congratulate her (now they know I have sweaty palms), then having to awkwardly stay at the gathering until it was over (please end, please end). I'm fairly confident my "thank you" did not come across as I had envisioned.

If you’re going to go to the effort to say thank you, you should probably ensure there is an agreeable transfer of gratitude. Don't assume others care to be thanked the same way you do. Also, be prepared for others to prefer being thanked in ways that may be new to you. Maybe someone likes a more public praise, and you're more of an introverted type. Get creative as to how you can still get them their praise without having to sacrifice your Introvert of The Month Status.

I ask two things of you today:

  1. Ask your immediate team members how they do (and do NOT) like to be thanked. Maybe even hide it in a, "so you have your choice: everyone in the department knowing an awesome job you did, your manager reaching out to recognize you, a cup of coffee waiting on your desk, or a high five, what do you choose?". Write it down!

  2. Give it a week or so, and seek out opportunities to leverage your new knowledge to say "thank you" to your teammates :)

Stay cognizant that you're speaking someone's language when saying "thank you." Mine's chocolate and coffee, what's yours?

Note: All of the opinions expressed in this article are my own, and are not a reflection of the viewpoint of my employer.

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