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Chances are, your parents raised you with some manners. Every time you would leave a birthday party, mom would give you the nudge to go thank the birthday girl’s parents for inviting you. Every time you went to your grandparents’ for dinner, mom and dad were again nudging you to thank them for the meal they’d prepared. We were taught to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ for anything we wanted or received. The principle of giving thanks is a must, but it’s bled over into the business world with unintended consequences.

One principle I teach my coaching clients is to really understand the psychology of a ‘thank you’. Now it doesn’t matter if you’re self-employed or work for an organization. It doesn’t matter if you’re interacting with a manager, a potential client or potential partner. It’s all the same in this regard. In most meetings, there is going to be the person that set up the meeting and the person that accepted the invitation. There is going to be a person offering expertise, advice or pitching a product/service. On the other end, there is a person receiving that expertise, advice, or (hopefully) buying that product/service. Who says ‘thank you’ at the end?

It’s often backwards.

We often see that the person who initiated the meeting, paid for the other person’s coffee, and gave a presentation is the same person that is thanking the other for attending and receiving the value.

I know what you’re thinking… I want to close the sale. I want to thank them for considering me. I want to thank my manger for their time. I want them to see that I am polite and a pleasure for them to do business with. 

I understand that. Trust me, I do. I did business this way for several years before coming to realize that I was undermining myself in the process.

When you thank a person for their time, or attending your event or listening to your presentation, you are telling them that THEY did something FOR you. Do you see how backwards this is? No, YOU did something for THEM. You bought their coffee, you planned the event they attended, you put together the presentation, you taught them valuable lessons or showed them a product/service that would make their life easier. You did that for THEM.

As subtle as a ‘thank you’ is when saying goodbye, it leaves a message within their subconscious. It tells them that you did them a favor, that they are in control of the decision, that you need them more than they need you. You need to reverse this.

At the end of your next meeting, presentation, or event, allow people to come up to you to say good-bye. It’s very, very natural for all of us to know that a ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ should be exchanged at the end of a meeting or event. When you push through the first part of the good-bye conversation without thanking them, it will cause them to thank you instead. It works, friends. I’ve tried and test it over and over for years.

It might look something like this:

Prospective Client: I’m getting ready to take off and wanted to come say good-bye.

You: Did you have a good time? – or – Did you have any take-aways from the presentation today?

Prospective Client:  Yes, I did. Thank you for putting this event together. – or – Yes, I did. I learned so much. Thank you for an incredible presentation.

You: You’re very welcome. I am so glad you came to the event and had the chance to learn about….  – or – You’re welcome. I am happy to hear you found a practical take-away that you can implement into your business. 

Why is this so important? It’s important because they need to know your worth, and they need to acknowledge (even subconsciously) that you gave them something of value and are an expert in your field. This subtle change in wording does the trick.

One important side note worth mentioning: I am not advocating that you discontinue your handwritten cards after a meeting, or a gift for a client at the end of a transaction. If that is part of your business, keep it that way. The only difference I am suggesting you make is to remove ‘thank you’ from the card or gift. Instead, write a short note about looking forward to your next meeting, or mentioning something specific that came up in conversation (show them that you don’t write the same note for every person). Use your follow-up note for a call-to-action or to begin the assumptive closing of the sale, but not to instead thank them for allowing you to buy them a coffee and teach them something. Do you see the difference now?

Don’t think this means you cannot ever thank someone for anything either. If someone buys you a cup of coffee or brings you a gift after you close a sale together, yes, please thank them for the gift! Keep your thanks limited to the gift or the coffee, however. I merely want you to understand when it is appropriate for you to be the one saying thank you.

Be confident in what you bring to the table. If you don’t feel as though you bring value, then the recipient will not see it either. The next time you host a meeting, give a presentation or sit with a prospective new client see how many thank-you’s you can get.


If you’d like more tips on how to build your business, please reach out to me. The first 30 minute coaching session is on me.

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