There is a lot of angst flying around these days. Uncertainty on the national stage and in our home communities seems to have everyone on edge. Those kinds of feelings tend to make one more inwardly focused and protective. While that’s only natural – a kind of a self-preservation response – it won’t do any of us any good. Withdrawing into ourselves won’t make us easier to get along with, or make us safer, or even make us feel any better.
You know what will? Letting others know you care about them and appreciate what they do.
Reaching out can be as simple as saying “thank you” to those who work beside you every day, or who amplify your philanthropic investments on the front lines. A simple “thank you” can change someone’s day for the better. It can also help build a feeling of mutual respect between you and almost anyone else.
This doesn’t have to be a grand, complex gesture (although I’m sure a bouquet of flowers or a nice bottle of wine wouldn’t be rejected). In fact, there are many different ways you could say “thank you” in less than 30 seconds.
- Email to a colleague thanking them for the work they do.
- Text a family member or friend who has provided support or simply made you laugh recently.
- Send a message to someone in the field to acknowledge something they’ve done that you admire.
- Write a handwritten note to a mentor to thank them for the time they’ve spent with you.
- Thank a policymaker who stood up for an issue that you believe in.
Acknowledging the actions of others lets them know that they’re not alone. It sends a signal that you believe in them. And it also builds a bedrock of common courtesy that is often forgotten when people feel scared or uncertain. In that way, saying a simple “thank you” can help calm the waters and set the stage for productive conversations.
Here’s the best part – you don’t have to like someone to thank them. But when you do thank someone you don’t really like or get along with, your own perspective about that person may start to change (just the tiniest bit) as well. By thanking them, you’ve opened a doorway to dialog for both of you – and that is what will ultimately return us all to a feeling of security and certainty in our ever-changing world.
Kris Putnam-Walkerly, MSW, has helped to transform the impact of top global philanthropies for over 18 years. In 2016 she was named one of America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers, and authored the book Confident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders, which was recently named one of “The 10 Best Corporate Social Responsibility Books.” For more ideas, tips and tools to improve your giving, visit Putnam Consulting Group to read an article, listen to a podcast, or check out a case study.
Kris will be speaking at National Summit on Family Philanthropy in San Francisco on February 21. During this session, hosted by the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, she will explore how family foundations may unwittingly create a culture of disrespect through common foundation practices.
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