The Two Magic Words That Leaders – And Everyone – Should Use More Often

When I was 10 years old, I got some great advice from my dad.

My 10 year old self could never have imagined all the ways I apply it now.

My dad told me,

“When someone gives you a compliment, just say thank you.

So many times, when someone praised me, the words that wanted to come out were like:
Really? You think so?”
“Oh, that was nothing.”
“Yeah, but I kinda messed up the middle.”

Instead, I’d bite my tongue and just say the two simple words, not realizing until later that by doing so, I was treating myself – and the other person – with respect.

Over time, I noticed another way the advice holds: when you receive feedback.

I remember overhearing a conversation between a person who had just finished giving a presentation and a leader who’d been in the meeting.

The speaker asked the leader for feedback (great idea!). Then, they proceeded to answer every sentence with a point of their own: “What I mean to say was…,” “Yeah, I thought I should go slower there…”

I felt for both people in the conversation. There was potential for connection and understanding that was not achieved.

Instead, I’d now advise that person to start with those magic words, “thank you” and then ask clarifying questions.

We could write a whole book on all the other uses of these two simple words.

But for now, I’ll just say thank you to my dad.

(In honor of #fathersday, 2023)

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