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The Power of Thanks

I have a hard time remembering jokes, but one I’ve heard has stayed with me for years…

An American, a Bangladeshi and an Israeli were shopping together at the supermarket. Arriving at the meat department, they saw a sign:

Sorry,
Due to shortages, there is no meat today. 
Thanks,
The Management

Scratching their heads, the shoppers contemplated the sign…

The American asked, “What is this word ‘shortages’?”

The Bangladeshi, equally perplexed, asked, “What is meat?”

The Israeli, doubly confused, poked at the sign and asked, “What are these words ‘Sorry’ and ‘Thanks’?”

While doing business and living here in Israel, I have noticed that I hear the words “Sorry” and “Thanks” much less than in other countries.

Fortunately, I don’t miss “Sorry.”  In California, my native land, it seems like everybody is apologizing and saying “Sorry” all the time. Relatively few Californians, however, actually seem to mean it. Mostly “Sorry” is just used as a substitute for “excuse me.” In Israel, by contrast, “Sorry” is generally reserved for the rare times when it is actually meant. 

On the other hand, I do miss hearing “Thanks.” Personally, I don’t need appreciation as much as I need the acknowledgement that a “Thanks” brings. When I send a gift, I like knowing that it was received. When I send a price quote, I like knowing that client was able to open and read the proposal. When I do a favor, I like knowing that the recipient was satisfied. Giving thanks is an effective way to communicate this acknowledgement.

The frequency of “Thanks” given as a polite gesture of acknowledgement is generally less in Israel than in other societies.  I try not to take it personally. Instead, I see this as an opportunity. 

Because “Thanks” is used less here in Israel, “thanks giving” has the potential to be a powerful differentiator in this society. People can easily distinguish themselves here by taking the time to write a thank you note, sending a reply that an email was received, giving thanks for a favor, etc. Giving thanks is simple, fast and cheap and only has an upside for you and your business.

But, I still wonder…

What were the American, the Bangladeshi and the Israeli doing together at the supermarket?!?

Sorry & thanks!!!

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