Showing gratitude is of the utmost importance in both our personal and our professional lives. It makes us feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves, like we belong.
And, this sense of belonging can give tremendous meaning to our actions.
Additionally, showing gratitude can make others feel validated and respected, propelling them towards achieving their full potential.
Because of all of this, it should come as no surprise to learn that gratitude has a large role to play in business. It improves collaboration, increases innovation, and creates a cycle of recognition and positive reinforcement.
Something as simple as telling another employee “Your actions had a huge, positive impact on me” can have an astonishing ripple effect.
Bearing that in mind, there are more ways than one to thank someone else.
And, whereas some ways might be suited for a casual setting where you want to thank a fellow colleague and friend, other ways might invoke a more professional atmosphere, the kind you’d want when thanking your boss.
So, let’s take a look at different ways you can say thank you.
- 1 Thank you: Keeping it casual
- 2 Thank you: Being more formal
- 3 Bringing out the professional in you
Thank you: Keeping it casual
Sometimes, when talking with fellow employees, you might want to thank them for something they have done. The following ways of saying thank you are all suitable if there is a level of familiarity between you and the person you’re thanking.
However, because of their informality, you probably don’t want to use any of them in emails or any other form of professional correspondence. Instead, try to use these in the middle of your day-to-day conversations:
I really appreciate it
Saying “I really appreciate it” is best reserved when someone does something above and beyond the call of duty. In other words, for these words to carry any weight, there has to be “something” you do appreciate; otherwise, if you use this expression too often, the words won’t be as meaningful when you truly do appreciate someone’s actions.
Employee #1: I need to finish these reports, but I also need to go pick up my kids from school. I don’t know what to do.
Employee #2: If you want, I can take some of those reports off your hands. That way you can pick your kid up on time.
Employee #1: Wow, you’d really do that?
Employee #2: Sure, I would. What are friends for?
Employee #1: I really appreciate it
You shouldn’t have
This expression is best used when someone surprises you with a good action that you weren’t expecting. It must be stressed that you can only use this expression after the action has been carried out and you discover it after the fact.
Employee #1: Hold on a second, where are the reports that were on my desk?
Employee #2: Oh! I knew that you needed to pick up your kids, so I finished them and filed them for you.
Employee #1: Really? You shouldn’t have.
I don’t know what to say
The gist behind this expression is that you are so overwhelmed with gratitude for a certain action that words are failing you. This is a more extreme version of “I really appreciate it,” and it can only be used in circumstances where you are genuinely having a hard time putting your gratitude into words.
Employee #2: So, the rest of the team and I have been talking, and we’ve decided to nominate you for the promotion. We feel that you are the most qualified among us and that the rest of us would flourish under your leadership.
Employee #1: You guys would do that for me? I don’t know what to say.
That’s very kind
You want to use this one when someone actually does something that displays kindness of some sort. So, whereas responding to your email and giving you the information you need to do your job doesn’t qualify, offering to help you with your work outside of office hours does.
Employee #1: I’m having a really hard time writing this report. I just don’t know where to start.
Employee #2: Tell you what? Once we’re off the clock, I’ll sit with you and we’ll figure it out together.
Employee #1: Thanks. That’s very kind.
You’re the best
This one is extremely informal and should only be used with close acquaintances and friends. It’s an amicable way of thanking someone and fits in almost any scenario, but its informality can make it unsuitable for the workplace in several cases. Use it only in cases where you aren’t too concerned about how professional you look.
Employee #1:Hey, I’m still waiting on the numbers from your department to hand in the final budget.
Employee #2:Well, I’ve just finished them, and they’re on their way to you right now.
Employee #1: Alright, you’re the best.
I owe you one
Even though this one is informal, you’ll usually use it with people you aren’t familiar with. The idea is that you’re basically saying that not only do you appreciate their actions but that you are also aware that you now owe them a favor as a way of repaying them.
Employee #2: Hey, you didn’t hear this from me, but management has been thinking of downsizing your department depending on how you guys do this quarter. You need to make sure that your department steps up in a big way if you want your team to keep their jobs.
Employee #1: Thanks for the heads up. I owe you one.
“You rock” is very similar to “you’re the best.” They are both very informal and best reserved for close friends and acquaintances. In fact, “you rock” is even more informal, making it only appropriate for people with whom you have a relationship outside of the office.
Employee #2: Hey, I finished the reports ahead of schedule, so you can now get started on your end of things.
Employee #1: Alright. Thanks to you, I get to go home early today. You rock.
What would I do without you
This one is a bit tricky because, in addition to being informal, it creates a sense of intimacy between you and the recipient. Consequently, unless you really know the person you are thanking, the resultant intimacy might be inappropriate for the workplace.
Employee #1: I think I lost my phone. I can’t seem to find it anywhere.
Employee #2: Don’t worry about it. You can just borrow mine till you find yours.
Employee #1: Thanks. What would I do without you?
Thank you: Being more formal
In most circumstances in business, you will have to adopt a formal tone. After all, any time you talk to your boss or send an email to a business partner, you can’t afford to use the same language you would normally use with a friend.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few formal phrases that can convey your gratitude:
I’m so grateful for …
The first thing to notice about formal language is how straight-forward and direct it is. So, when you want to thank someone formally, rather than saying you rock, you could just say “I’m so grateful for so and so.”
An even stronger version of this expression is “I’m eternally grateful for…” However, you want to reserve this latter expression for cases where you are thanking someone for something truly outstanding.
After all, the word “eternally” can be very powerful, and you should never waste that power over something mundane.
To change things up, let’s look at an excerpt from a hypothetical email between an employee and their boss.
“I just wanted to say that I’m so grateful for the time and effort you put into explaining how to best approach this report.”
This is an excerpt from a hypothetical email between an employee and their boss. The employee is about to leave the company, and they are writing the email as a farewell to their leader and mentor.
”Moreover, I am eternally grateful for all the effort and time you spent mentoring me and showing me how to be a better person; I will always endeavor to take what I learned from you and infuse it into all of my actions.”
I truly appreciate it
Even though this expression may seem very similar to the informal “I really appreciate it,” they are quite different, and the secret lies in the word “truly.”
You see, the word “really” is quite informal, and you wouldn’t see it in a formal correspondence of any kind. Alternatively, words like “truly,” “genuinely,” and “greatly” all ooze formality.
So, other alternatives of “I truly appreciate it” are “I genuinely appreciate it” and “I greatly appreciate it.”
Boss: I know you’ve worked hard this week, so I want you to take tomorrow off. Spend some time with the family and come back after the weekend refreshed and ready to give it 110 percent.
Employee: I genuinely appreciate it.
It’s so kind of you to …
One of the hallmarks of formal writing is creating a certain distance between you and the thing you are referring to. You can achieve this by referring to whatever you are talking about in a decontextualized fashion, even if it has just taken place.
To decontextualize something, you can’t use “this” or “that” or anything that refers to the current context you are in.
So, during a meeting, instead of saying “this is a good idea,” you could say “Your idea of doing so and so is good,” which is an example of taking an idea that was just mentioned but speaking about it in abstract, absolute terms.
This is why saying “It’s so kind of you to …” is the formal version of “that’s very kind.”
Boss: If you need any help meeting ends meet this month, I am more than fine with giving you next month’s salary a little early.
Employee: It’s so kind of you to offer to help. I’ll think about it.
I want you to know how much I value …
Just because you are being formal does not mean you can’t be intimate. When you want to thank someone for something that means a lot to you, you can use this expression.
However, if you use this expression and the situation doesn’t warrant it, you’ll come across as too try-hard, and that’s not the impression you want to leave in the business world.
Let’s say that a particular company has had a problem with one of its clients, so the client has been corresponding with one of the company’s employees, trying to clear matters up.
If the problem has been going on for a while, but the employee has been patient and accommodating with the begrudged client, the client might send them an email that contains the following line:
”Even though I might come across as despondent, my frustration is directed towards your company and not towards you personally. And, with that said, I want you to know how much I value your patience and perseverance in helping me resolve this matter.”
Words cannot describe how grateful I am
This is the more formal version of “I don’t know what to say.” By taking yourself out of the equation, the statement becomes less personal while still conveying how grateful you are.
However, it is also more poignant than it’s less formal cousin: Whereas “I don’t know what to say” sends the message that you are lost for words right now, “words cannot describe how grateful I am” relays the idea that even if you had all the time in the world, you still would be unable to find the adequate words that can express the depth of your gratitude.
It’s a subtle difference, but I thought it would be fun to point out.
All that said, because this expression can be so poignant, you would do well to use it in writing rather than in conversation. If you use it in conversation, it might come across as a bit awkward.
In this hypothetical case, a company was going through rough times, but its employees stood by it, working overtime and accepting a cut in pay.
After the squeeze had passed by, the CEO of the company decided to write a letter to all his employees, thanking them. This line could be in that letter:
”Words cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for each and every one of you. You have all stood by us during grueling times, and it is thanks to your efforts and hard work that we have managed to make it through.”
Bringing out the professional in you
If we were to assume that the casual statements above existed at one end of the formal-informal spectrum, then the following expressions inhabit that other end. These are the sorts of expressions that you would use when trying to show extreme deference.
It should be mentioned that these phrases are so formal that they’re best left to the written word. In other words, if you try to use them in a normal conversation, you will sound stuffy and insincere, regardless of whom you are talking to.
Try to put them in your letters and emails when appropriate:
Your support is greatly appreciated
As you might have noticed a strong element of formal writing is depersonalizing whatever it is you are saying, i.e. taking yourself out of the equation and conveying a more objective, distant tone.
This is why you can make anything sound more professional if you turn it from an active statement to a passive one.
Accordingly, rather than saying “I greatly appreciate your support,” you can even be more formal by saying “your support is greatly appreciated.”
When complaining about a certain issue to the company’s CEO, an employee could end their email as follows:
”Your support in the matter would be greatly appreciated.
This one is less of a statement and more of a way to sign off your letters and emails. If you are writing to someone, requesting something from them, you could end your letter or email with “Appreciatively” instead of “Sincerely.”
In the above complaint we just looked at, we could adjust the end to look like this:
”Your support in the matter would be greatly appreciated.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.