4-H members are asked to complete a lot of tasks throughout the year, including thanking people. Members receive awards from the fair, sell livestock projects at the fair sale and receive awards of recognition at the achievement banquet. These are all just some instances when saying thank you is so important, but can easily be overlooked.
Saying thank you, whether that be verbally or written, is extremely important. Laura Trice explained in her TED talk (2008) that most of us want to be told thank you to show that we are appreciated for the work that was done. Trice also gives four reasons for saying thank you, including that a person might really need to know someone appreciates them, by hearing thank you someone is more likely to pay it forward, it can make someone smile and it can also improve a person’s mental and physical health. Additionally, Bernice Ledbetter (2016) explained that gratitude gained from being thanked can improve self-esteem and increase confidence.
When it comes to thanking people in person, remember eye contact, body language and tone of voice all leave an impression and can impact the effectiveness of a thank you. Of course, the most obvious thing to say is thank you, but it should also be accompanied by a firm handshake. However, there are other phrases that can have similar meaning, such as those suggested by Kat Boogard (2016), which include “I really appreciate that,” “You’re a lifesaver,” and “How can i repay you?”
While verbal thank yous are perhaps the most common writing is just as important. However, thank you notes have become less and less common in today’s society. Nancy Olson (2017) considered the reasons to write thank you notes to include it’s the right thing to do, it sets you apart from others and gratitude is good for the brain. Allison Capley (2014) adds that thank you notes help build relationships, demonstrate your communication skills and it is more personal than a text or email.
Written thank you notes need to be well-written. In a guide provided by the University Idaho Extension, elements of a thank you note should include a greeting, expressing your gratitude, discussing use of the donation, thanking the donor again and a closing salutation. Additional recommendations include using plain stationary and cards, always plan ahead, use blue or black ink, handwrite your notes, take your time and keep them short and sweet, but meaningful. Spelling and grammar is also important, as this leaves an impression.
There has been a rise in providing buyer gifts at fair livestock auctions. While this is by no means a requirement, it is another method of saying thank you that many have adopted. Baskets with items they can use when preparing the meat from the animal they purchased, baked goods and candy are all things that indicate appreciation. Taking things later by the person’s business is another way to say thanks. However, such items should also not replace a verbal and written thank you.
It is important for 4-H members to remember that each contribution (no matter the size) are gifts that the donor felt they were able to give. A sincere thank you can certainly make it more likely the donor will return with their support. Therefore, it is important to remember to say thank you.