'Tis the Season for Gratitude: How to Say Thank You

Understanding when, why and how to say thank you is important in business. And the end of the year is a great time to tell your freelance clients and colleagues just how much you appreciate them.

As the year winds to a close (how is that even possible?), many people tend to get a little retrospective. But as freelancers, we often don't pause to look at the work we've done over the past six to 12 months; we're too busy moving forward, looking ahead and wondering (or worrying) about what's next.

Before the year ends, I'd encourage my fellow freelance creative professionals to reflect on your successes and then say "thank you" to all who helped make them happen.

The Power of Thank You

Even if you're beyond busy, it's important to make time to express gratitude to your clients and supporters. Thank them for their energy and enthusiasm. Thank them for their consideration, attention and input during a project. Thank them for their honest feedback and constructive criticism. Thank them for the opportunity to create, work and grow together.

We thank clients for their time after a meeting, for an invoice paid on time or a new project commenced. But how many other opportunities, large and small, are waiting for us to express our appreciation? Learn how to say thank you and make expressing gratitude part of your regular routine.

On author Todd Henry's Accidental Creative blog, writer Mindy Holahan offers insights on saying thanks to people who've influenced your creative process. "Gratitude is a glue that binds people together," she writes. "To give it is to receive it, because to receive it you must first give it. This is a beautiful circle. With it, harmony is struck and serendipity is found. When your friends and creative allies engage with you in this flow of thanks, you'll never again be alone, wanting for help."

Saying thanks early and often in business relationships builds just that: relationships. It forges a deeper connection based on admiration and respect.

From a purely self-focused standpoint, saying thanks is a way of recognizing and encouraging a desired behavior. Whether you're nurturing a child or "training" a new freelance client, expressing your gratitude for a specific action or attitude increases the odds that it will happen again. Say, "Thanks for your timely and focused feedback; it allowed me to make changes quickly and keep the project on track." "Thanks" is a powerful word in the service of positive reinforcement.

Other ways to say thanks: 

  • I appreciate
  • I honor
  • I admire
  • I'm grateful
  • I acknowledge
  • I approve

Earlier in the year, a client with whom I worked for the first time sent me a hand-written thank-you card after our project wrapped. "I wanted to express my gratitude for your contribution," it read in part. The note sparked a grin that lasted all day; it remains clipped to the inside cover of my notebook as a reminder not just of work well done, but of the importance and lasting impact of the words "thank you."

Tags: Freelance