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  • Ken Clark

The Well-Executed Public Thank You


We’ve all seen that train wreck of a thank you, where someone starts to publicly thank someone else, but it morphs into a grandiose session of humble-brag. Instead of turning the spotlight on the person deserving the thank you, they spend the bulk of their time and energy highlighting their own awesomeness. Their thank you, like so many other things in their lives, is simply a chance to talk more about themselves.

Don’t be that person.

Receiving a public thank you, when done thoughtfully, can be one of the most special moments in someone’s life. It’s a chance for someone’s crowd to declare how valuable they are as an individual to the whole. It’s a moment where the world that matters to us agrees upon our value and for one split second, puts us at the center of it all.

Its impact isn’t limited to the recipient. A well-executed public thank you strengthens a community of people by offering them a chance to think beyond themselves as individuals for a moment. It highlights the values at the heart of people’s commitments to one another. It gives a chance for the young among us to see what is admirable, and helps set the bar high for their own contributions. It’s a moment where one thoughtful leader invites everyone to transcend whatever heaviness, fear or grief they’re carrying and embrace the positivity that is true in their circle.

Public Gratitude: Make it About Them, Not You

The fine line between celebrating someone else and stealing their spotlight becomes easier to navigate when you remember one cardinal rule… to talk about their contribution, not your evolution.

Tell the crowd about what, how and when they’ve given, but don’t talk about the success that has brought you. Tell stories and anecdotes about their faithfulness and sacrifice, but skip the part where you begin talking about how you’ve learned to do the same. Tell about how they’ve contributed to your life, but don’t remind your audience that you’ve done the same.

In fact, aside from using words like admire, enjoy or love to talk about your feelings, just try and skip talking about YOU at all. If you need to talk about anyone else, talk about what your person has done for the other people listening, but keep the spotlight off you as much as possible.

Try it today. Simply tell someone, in front of at least one other person, the attributes they hold that you’re thankful for. Just tell someone they’re kind, funny or giving without telling them why. If they ask why or why now when it comes to your thank you, just tell them that you thought they deserved to know.

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