Accepting Thanks With Good Grace

There is a huge value in accepting help in your business, to build your own capacity as well as growing your team too. And often, when we are given a compliment, or someone says 'Thank you', we feel it is polite to gently decline. We say things like 'It's nothing' or 'No, no - it was all you'. As part of a business transaction I've been involved in, which has not gone that well and one which I have been chasing hard to make anything out of for a bunch of other people as well as myself, we had a minor success. To one of the partners, it represented something far bigger than it did to some of the others, despite being less than anticipated. Financially, it was very important to him.

So he sent me a gift for the effort I'd made. It was a small gift and one which he could ill-afford. Now he told me he was sending this small gift and it would have been easy to say 'You shouldn't have'.

Instead, I said 'Thank You'. I appreciated, following the reminder that a boss gave me a few years ago, that the choice of making the gift was theirs and thus important to them. In fact it was a big financial decision, given the state of their finances. Dismissing it with the 'You shouldn't', would undo a lot of their decision making and choice to make a gift.

So, I said 'Thank you, I appreciate that you have made this gesture, and I'm very grateful'. My business experience of this was when I was once given praise for a piece of work where I dismissed the praise with, 'It's just my job'. Quickly and supportively, my boss said this to me, 'It's always best to accept thanks and praise with good grace, that is how it's given'. And so I always have since then. Why is this important? Well, when individuals offer thanks or praise, it is their gift to give, not yours to decline or dismiss.

Gifts like this are hard to give, especially when courage and strength is needed to even speak up, as in some organizations. Respecting this, is where you come in. Accepting the gift with honesty and appreciation is a wonderful gift back, though mainly unspoken and intangible. It's like saying, 'Well, well, how wonderful that someone appreciates what I do sometimes, you are so kind for giving me the feedback that what I do is valued'. This builds relationships hugely, builds teams and overall means that all pulling together, appreciating each other and valuing the closeness, are important even though sometimes unspoken.

It's worth reflecting on the form of words you can use to someone who shows you appreciation for something you did and thank them for taking the time to thank you, without deflecting that in any way. You, they and your organisational morale will find great value in this.

(c) 2006-7 Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website,

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