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Putting the Thanks in Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the most unassuming of holidays. It heralds in the holiday season and a marked uptick in civility and courtesy in the universe. It doesn’t ask anything except for families to gather and spend time together – and indulge their love of pumpkin pie. It ranks as many people’s favorite holiday as it focuses around family without the nagging commercialism and stress that can dominate the season.

It is a time for us all to remember how lucky we are and appreciate those who are special to us.

It truly is a time to be thankful.

When it comes to providing the very best in Customer service, the idea of gratitude and good manners is the glue that holds it all together. When it comes to the extoling the virtues of appreciation, there is no greater holiday touchstone than Thanksgiving.

Let’s face it, the answer is in the name, as the entire holiday was born from the gratitude of the Mayflower colonists in 1621 following a successful harvest. There are some very particular lessons that we can learn from this holiday and if we listen closely, history is calling to us to remember the attributes that make this time of year so very special to many.


RELATIONSHIPS MATTERS: The 1621 harvest was a milestone in the colonization of our nation. It represented a partnership between the Wampanoag and Pawtuxet tribes and the colonists who landed near Cape Cod. This relationship taught the struggling Colonists how to tap maple trees, fish, avoid poisonous vegetation, and harvest Corn. The history lesson aside, most times success requires folks to count on one another and really pull the rope in the same direction. Partnership matters within organizations as Customers and businesses strive to find success. It is truly a two way street and the more we can inspire our Customers and clients to take on a partnership role rather than one of customer to vendor, the better we can serve them.

INNOVATION MATTERS: Doing the same things will yield the same results. That is all well and fine if what you are doing is working, but if it isn’t, then you have to retool your thinking. We all learned that when the first Colonists arrived in the New World they brought equipment for gold prospecting and mining rather than agriculture and survival. The first colonies were doomed but later settlers who adapted, learned, and tried new things succeeded. The extension of this thought is that those in business have to be adaptive if they are to survive – sometimes it isn’t easy to change, but you must do so if you are to survive. Guests will push us to be innovative, flexible, and innovative at all turns. Those who win are the ones who can make the most of the situation while remaining true to their core mission.

CELEBRATION MATTERS: The history books tell us that the first Thanksgiving was celebration of the first successful corn harvest. The fledgling colony invited their Native American allies and gathered for a feast lasting several days. This is how we all need to celebrate winning. Often we openly admit mistakes but rarely take the time to celebrate our victories. That isn’t to say we should be egomaniacal about our successes, but we shouldn’t hide them either. When our teams work hard and win, they deserve a little celebration. That could be a round of coffees from the local café, a pizza party, or even something as whacky as a disco fondue party. Take the time and utilize your budget to be sure that everyone knows how appreciated they are and how integral they are to the success of the organization.

GRATITUDE MATTERS: The idea of Thanksgiving has morphed over the years from a celebration of that first harvest and remembrance of our humble beginnings to a time to count our blessings. I know around my dinner table we often take time to list those items for which we are most thankful. I also make it a habit to give thanks to the most important people in my life and always smile when I hear from someone that I have impacted. This idea of gratitude and thankfulness can carry through to our work world as well. When we bring genuine caring to our Guests and our teams they will certainly feel it, and it will help drive an insane level of loyalty. Have you ever been out frequenting a business and not received a “thank you” after spending your hard earned money? I know I have and it frustrates me every time. Think about times when that has happened to you and commit to thank every one of your Guests. The idea of gratitude must permeate every piece of our service right down to the words we use. Thanking Guests is just the beginning – positive words and phrases matter, too. The culture of appreciate should be a part of everything we do. If you want to go to the next level, replace the phrase “Your Welcome” with “It’s My Pleasure” when you are thanked by a Guest. Ritz Carlton has long made this a part of their lexicon and Chick-fil-A’s founder was inspired to implement the same phraseology after a visit to one of their properties. These kinds of carefully scripted moves can help set you apart.

All-in-all, though, whether you choose to learn from the spirit of Thanksgiving or just enjoy the all-out food coma and meat sweats that come along with the holiday, I wish you and your family the very best this holiday season.

Take a moment to breath, enjoy a restful day, and treat everyone in your life like cherished family and friends.


Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

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The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899).   Image Courtesy of History Channel and Wikipedia

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