Man looking up at skyHow often do you say thank you? I am not talking about the Thank Yous that roll off easily for someone opening a door, or for the store clerk who was attentive to your needs. It is not about sending a thank you note for receiving your birthday or anniversary presents or acknowledging someone who sent you free tickets to an event. I am talking about the people in your life that have made a difference.

They may have given you a piece of advice, helped you in a promotion, fired you, stopped you from doing something wrong, or just were there when you needed them. They may have been the friend who told you what you needed to hear, even if it meant jeopardizing your relationship. They may not have judged you; giving you room to grow. Their influence in your life may not be evident immediately; over time though you reflect on how it changed the course of your life. They may be a family member, a stranger, a friend or foe. They may have drifted from your life or still be apart of it and or we may just be taking them for granted.

I have spent the last few days with a friend whose mother is in the ICU. As my friend reaches out to his network for pearls of wisdom, one long distance relative asks him if he has told his mother – Thank You. It hits him emotionally like a ton of bricks. He has told her over the last few years, how much he loves her, but not thanked her. Thanking someone is telling someone what they have done for you, not about what you think of them. It is celebrating the gifts they have given you and recognizing it. You don’t have to love or like someone to thank them. In fact, you may even dislike the very person you should think about thanking.

Thanking someone means becoming more vulnerable and sharing what is important to you. For some us, that may seem easy. For others, you will spend some time on how would like to share your thoughts. Take a moment to sit down and complete the following:

I want to thank you for doing………
I want to thank you for telling me…….
I want to thank you for letting me……
I want to thank you for stopping me from…….
I want to thank you for helping me…..
I want to thank you for……

I want to thank you for being you. Let me tell you what that means to me.

Practice what you would like to say in front of mirror, in your car, or any other safe place. When you feel ready, ask the person if they have some quiet time for a discussion. If you are uncomfortable with saying it, you can always write a note to someone.

My friend knew right away what needs to be said to his mother. It did not occur to him that he had not shared with her how much she affected his life; how he became the person he is today because of her influence.

It is hard to think of a more powerful and positive way to communicate. Thank the people in your life today.