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When my best friend became engaged last fall, I couldn’t have been happier for her. Memories flashed through my head from the previous ten years and how much we really grew up together through college and as young adults. And now that one of us was taking the next step in her life, it feels as though we both were preparing for what was to come.

I’m not sure what you call it, common courtesy, good manners, graciousness, or a show of respect. But what I do know is that I don’t hear it often enough and it bugs me.

“You’re Welcome”

Growing up, I was taught to say “you’re welcome” in reply to hearing the term “thank you.”  According to urbandictionary.com, the phrase is a polite way to respond to thanks. It’s a sign of acknowledgment, it tells someone that you are respecting their gesture of appreciation, it’s just common courtesy…right?

Today when I say “thank you” the response I get is “no problem.” What’s that…no problem? What…was it really a problem in the first place? Is this your automatic response to everything? Or do you really NOT care?

Most often, I hear “no problem” in the service industry or from The Teenager (which I correct her every time!) When I hear the phrase, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Why? Because the term “no problem” indicates there actually was a problem. We service providers (and parents, children, and generally caring people) need to eliminate this term from our vocabulary. We need to get back to basics and show some courtesy and respect, in a positive way, with just a few simple words.  

If saying “you’re welcome” goes against your belief system or is just unnatural for you to say, here are a few other polite and service-minded responses you could try:

In June our family said goodbye to an 11-year-old little girl who had taken up space in our home and our hearts during her fifteen-month stay in the U.S. through a Korean exchange program. I recall the void that was felt for several weeks. We had to retrain ourselves to count to six instead of seven when setting the table, cross off Baby Swiss Cheezits on the grocery list, and zerbert one less child at bed time.
When we embarked on opening our home to an exchange student, we focused on the experience we could bring to her life, but did not realize the impact she would make on ours. This was one of the many thoughts going through my head as I mowed the lawn in June just days after putting her on the fourteen-hour flight back to her real home. As I looked back, I saw all the things I had learned about myself. I learned that I did have a heart that could grow to love a child that wasn’t my flesh and blood. I also saw the selfish sides of me, at times, that struggled with being inconvenienced with another person to manage. I saw my kids and family in a new light as we had to adjust to having a new person in our midst. But the biggest thing that I learned is that life always boils down to relationships. It’s what matters most in the end. You never know when it will be your last time to make an impact on a life. So don’t discount the value of spending time with those you love. With our Korean daughter, we knew our time was limited and yet we still got sucked into thinking we would have more time and more opportunities.
Our world pulls us in so many directions. It also inundates us with messages that the temporary things are so much more important than relationships. Listen to your heart and not your logic. The laundry can wait. Play a game with your kids. Your to-do list can grow another day. Go on a date with your hubby. That much-needed run isn’t necessary. Take a walk with your sister. Must see TV doesn’t have to be seen. Write an encouraging e-mail to a friend in need. Choose to invest in relationships today.

Last Wednesday, July 25, I was lucky enough to attend Fashion Force Challenge at Monte’s, an event co-sponsored by ArtPrize and Spotlight 616, as a judge. The event was centered around the release of ArtPrize’s latest and greatest merchandise line for their international art competition beginning September 19 and lasting through October 7.

Have you ever wondered what type of commitment it takes to become an Olympic athlete? Being the best athlete has never been something to which I aspired, but being the best I can be as an employer and team member is something for which I do strive. Olympic athletes share three common traits. These same traits can be applied to all facets of life, including career advancement.

Plan–Athletes create a plan of where they want to be not just in one year but also up to several years in advance. How far in advance are you planning for your career's future? You can never start planning too far in advance, so create the plan and work it. You may have to adjust along the way, but if you know where you want to end up, you can work the plan and get there.

Seek Assistance–Olympic athletes typically have more than one coach helping them, including trainers for their mental, physical, and nutritional health. Maximizing mind, body, and soul can improve overall results, and at the Olympics, the difference between gold, silver, bronze, or no medal at all can be a fraction of a second or a single point. So, how many people do you look to for guidance? Consider joining a mentorship program, or look to others in your industry for help.

Visualize–If you see it, you can achieve it. While this statement is so true for all we do, it is imperative for Olympians to see their dreams come true to make them a reality. They visualize every step of their event with a positive outcome at the end. How much do you visualize the outcome of your meetings, events, and/or job in general?

It's not just that most Olympians are born with a certain set of physiological gifts, although that's a big part of it. It's also their commitment to their sports and, perhaps most important, the way they train. As employees and employers, we can apply the same level of commitment to our work. In doing so, each of us has the opportunity to break our own records. Good luck!

KasieSWritten by: Kasie Smith is West Michigan Woman magazine's publisher. She is a Michigan native. She was born in Traverse City, and now lives in Grand Rapids. She enjoys golfing, spending time in the sun, and watching romantic comedies with her very own leading men, her husband Jason and her twin boys. Photo: Margan Zajdowicz

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