Maybe We Need to Call It ThanksShowing?

November 25, 2015

I was on a flight earlier this week and watched a man give up his seat in first class to a mother with her infant. As he graciously joined the rest of us back in coach, he probably noticed, like I did, the many passengers flipping through magazines with big turkeys on their covers heralding the Thanksgiving holiday. The connection hit me. Is it enough for us to just give thanks? This guy actually showed us what the holiday is all about (click to tweet).

Thursday is the big day we in the U.S. set aside to give thanks to whatever and whomever we deem worthy. Against a backdrop of November skies and football games and cranberry sauce and stuffed turkeys, we will say thank you. We will feel more grateful. We might make a donation or two, and we will celebrate the many ways we’ve been lucky this year. And I hope we will acknowledge those who haven’t been, particularly in these turbulent times. This is all important—but how much and how often do we actually do something about it? Shouldn’t there be more thankful actual service than thankful lip service? As I sipped my club soda and ate my mini-pretzels in 12D, I realized I have a lot of work to do in this area.

I came across this article and infographic that talks all about the notion of “the helper’s high”—the science behind how helping others and giving back can actually have positive and tangible benefits including improved health, stronger relationships—even a longer lifespan. I can use all of those things!

So here’s my self-diagnosed wake-up call. I need to do more than just give thanks. I need to show it more. I will try to stop saying to my colleagues that I really value our time together as I bang out an email on my iPhone pleading with them to, “just give me one second, because this can’t wait.” I’ll put the blasted thing face down or in my bag and show them I’m in it with them. I will try to stop only emailing praise or congratulations to recognize great work or accomplishments. How about I handwrite a thank you note or better yet, I leave my office and go actually shake the hand that deserves it? And I will try to stop claiming to appreciate what it is to walk a day in the life of one of our clients. ‘Tis the season to actually show up, pull out the laptop and do it.

I suspect the good people at Hallmark will eschew my suggestion to change the holiday branding. But this year, as I’m counting the many things and people for which I’m thankful, I’m going to try harder to show it, not just say it.

Happy ThanksShowing, all.

Mike Doyle is a partner and president for Ketchum in North America. He’s been part of the global Ketchum network for more than 20 years and counseled clients in a wide range of industries and services, helping global brands enhance their corporate reputation, launch products, merge or acquire new brands and navigate issues and crises. He is the co-chair of Omnicom’s OPEN Pride community, which promotes awareness, acceptance and advocacy for the network’s LGBT community by creating opportunities for leadership, visibility, community involvement, networking and business.