For several years, I’ve been talking about pursuing excellence in communication, and that is often interpreted to mean excellence as a speaker or a trainer. That doesn’t surprise me, especially since I’ve been doing significantly more speaker coaching since the pandemic hit in early 2020, and they all want to excel on the platform.
However, there is an aspect of communication that isn’t often discussed…in my experience. It’s interpersonal communication, especially face-to-face. This is a broad category and it includes ‘the hard conversation’, confrontation, an apology, or an admonition…to name a few. My focus today is on the expression of GRATITUDE, which can be a cordial expression of appreciation, or encouraging gift that lifts someone’s spirit in unexpected ways. Truth be told, I hadn’t really thought about the GIFT of gratitude until the summer of 1994.
In late June 1993 I was hospitalized in Bronxville New York after being diagnosed with multiple pulmonary emboli…several blood clots in my lungs. That was the ‘good’ news. There was one massive clot INSIDE MY HEART and I was given at best a 50/50 chance of survival. I was placed in the care of Cardiology Specialist Dr. Anthony Mercando, a soft-spoken gentleman with a background in engineering. Over the course of 48 hours he made the decision to use a treatment protocol that was not widely used at that time. The treatment was my medical life-saver, and Dr. Mercando’s professionalism, kindness, compassion and deep concern for me was an emotional life-saver. Physical recovery took several weeks, and emotional healing…dealing with the fear of a recurrence…took years.
I was so grateful to Dr. Mercando for his expertise, and his genuine concern for my young family and me so in the summer of 1994 I decided to express my gratitude to him. On the anniversary of my treatment, I visited Dr. Mercando in his office to say “Thank you for saving my life.” He was so delighted…and a bit surprised…that I went to visit him in person; I could have just called. To him, my visit was a gift, even though I didn’t realize it at that time. The true depth of my “thank you” and what it meant to Dr. Mercando didn’t become clear until I made another decision; I would visit or call him in late June EVERY YEAR to say “Thank you.” He moved offices a number of times, but I did visit every year, until I relocated to Georgia in 2006. Even then, I planned summer trips back to New York as often as was feasible, and always went to see Dr. Mercando.
Over the last several years, I haven’t been able to visit, but I have called, and I haven’t missed speaking to him ONCE in 29 years. The magnitude of my GIFT of gratitude finally became clear in one conversation with Dr. Mercando. He revealed, unsurprisingly, that he’s had the blessing of helping countless patients throughout his medical career. Then he said, “Mark, you are the ONLY patient who continues to thank me. That means so much more to me than you will ever know.” WOW! Just communicating my thanks was a gift! I had NEVER thought of it in that light before, and I learned that we likely will never know the how meaningful our thanks can be.
We are communicators, and we can forge excellent relationships when we communicate honestly, openly and authentically. By saying “Thank you”, even for that which seems of little import to you, can be just the gift of gratitude that brightens someone’s day, lifts their spirit, and reminds them that they are valuable. Give the GIFT OF GRATITUDE…today.