Thanksgiving is just days away—and in between thoughts of casserole recipes and how to navigate your annual family dinner, you’re probably also thinking about all you have to be grateful for.
According to Alison Green from Ask a Manager, this is the perfect time to let your co-workers know how much you appreciate them—and why. “Showing gratitude to colleagues can build stronger relationships and help you get better results in your work,” Green writes.
Just think: When a co-worker has shown appreciation for something you’ve done to help him or her, you’ve probably been more likely to help that person again in the future. And when he or she hasn’t shown that gratitude, you probably haven’t gone out of your way to lend a hand again.
Plus, showing thankfulness helps improve the quality of the relationship as a whole. “People tend to feel warmly and positively toward people who appreciate them,” Green says, which can have a positive effect on future networking, references, and your interactions at work in general.
Suddently feeling thankful? Try these four ideas to show your appreciation.
1. Give a Straightforward (and Specific) Compliment
A standard thank you may not be extraordinarily creative, but it works—and that’s the important thing.
You want to make sure your co-worker knows you appreciate her? Walk up to her desk and give her a genuine, straightforward thank you. To make the most impact, mention what you’re specifically grateful for
“Christine, thank you so much for jumping in and helping me with my presentation yesterday. I know it was a late night; I really appreciate you taking the extra time to make sure it was perfect. I couldn’t have done it without you!”
Face-to-face, specific, and full of appreciation—it’s sometimes the only thing someone wants to hear.
2. Speak Up in a Team Meeting
An individual, face-to-face thank you is personal and effective, but there’s also room for more public appreciation—and a team meeting is the perfect place to recognize someone who’s helped you out recently.
It doesn’t have to be big and flashy. Try working it in naturally, like as part of a project update that you were going to give anyway: “The project’s right on track, thanks to Joe, who reviewed it and helped me adjust the intro and conclusion—and I think it really hits the nail on the head now.”
The public (but not over-the-top) recognition will make your colleague feel extra special—and it’ll help boost his or her value within the team. (And if you’re truly struggling for ideas, check out this list.)
3. Bring in a Treat
I know. It seems a little silly—and perhaps a tad reminiscent of your elementary school birthdays when you brought in cupcakes for the class.
But then again, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate a donut or a cup of coffee that’s not from the lukewarm pot that’s been sitting idly on the counter for the past two hours. Simple as it may seem, a treat with a quick “Just wanted to say thanks for your help with the Smith account. I couldn’t have done it without you!” goes a long way to make a co-worker feel appreciated.
If that still seems a little awkward, swing for enough for the entire team, then throw in a personal note: “Hey everyone, I brought in some doughnuts to say thanks for your hard work this past week—especially Sarah, who really came through in the 11th hour for me on a big client account.”
4. Email the Boss
Part of your job as an employee is to make sure your boss knows how awesome you are—but it’s even better if your co-workers do that for you.
One of the most meaningful thank yous I’ve ever received came when a co-worker emailed my boss (and copied me), explaining how I’d been a huge help to him with a client situation over the past couple days and that he wanted to extend his gratitude. He forwarded it to his supervisor, and all of a sudden, my good dead was known throughout the department without me having to say a word.
So if you want to thank a co-worker, consider sending an email to his or her boss. The compliment on its own will make your colleague feel appreciated—but knowing that the boss also knows what he or she has done makes the gratitude even more meaningful.
A thank you to your colleagues doesn’t have to be a big show—but displaying your appreciation will help your relationships, your quality of life at the office, and your ability to continue receiving your co-workers’ help in the future.