Thank you or Well Done? Are you boosting self esteem or self value? You need both for self-worth.

Both "Thank You" and "Well Done" as forms of recognition are of course important, but as a teacher, coach, mentor, or even parent, take a moment to see which may be the most effective depending on your client or child…and the same is true if you are a leader, or part of the team!

“You won’t care if they love you, its been done before” (High Flying Adored, Evita)

Try a “THANK YOU” to leaders

I run numerous projects – theatrical productions mostly, and when they are over, it’s always lovely to hear “Well done!”, “That was great!”, “I loved it.” particularly from audiences who have paid good money to see it. But the thing that I always treasure the most is the “Thank You” from the cast, and especially that ones that say “Thank you for doing this.” rather than “Thanks that was great”.

Think about the projects you run or the tasks that you do. On the whole I would damn well hope they are going to be “great”. You’re either getting paid to do them as a job, or you’ll at least have some experience in getting them off the ground. “Great” was probably never an option, you were doing it, you were going to do it well…but the time and effort you put in to bring it together – might have been. How many times have you chaired a meeting when you weren’t feeling 100% because you were expected to be there? How often have you contained the anxieties of a fraught team – whilst also having your own life demands to manage? How often did you go home drained only to return the next day with a refreshed outlook and new motivation because you knew that’s what was expected.

The effort you put into making a project feel great, is not the same as the hard skills which you will have that makes it look great.

A quick word of advice to anyone who is part of a team that produces “great work” on a regular basis – acknowledge the people not just the project. A Thank You – for being you/for including me/for all your work/for your support – and so on, especially if you can say what was so meaningful and why, is absolute golddust.

Leaders don’t always get thanked, Leaders often get praised – try both ways!

…and flip it!

Try a WELL DONE” to teams

There are, likewise, a number of people who are part of the team. They bring the project their time, and effort, and there’s almost an expectation that they are committed come what may. Of course they are often “thanked”. Thank you for all of the above.

But within that effort team members may have learned new skills, they may have innovated new concepts, they will have grown as professionals. Perhaps they have had to buckle down and do a task they didn’t think they could, maybe they have revealed hidden talents, perhaps they even surprised you by initiating something you didn’t expect and which benefitted all.

For them, acknowledging their accomplishments can go even further than “Thank you” for their attendance. A Well done/That was awesome – again identifying what was so good and why, is likely to motivate them far more than a simple “thanks”.

Both are important - and work to offer both, but if you know some people hear one more than the other emphasise the one they may be missing.

Try this

- If you automatically write “thank you” to certain people, look for something you can say “Well done” for – and vice versa – and be specific with the what and why!

- With teams, friends and family, if there is something you commonly recognize in them as inspiring, look deeper and highlight not just the skill or the strength that they likely know too, but something they don’t usually see or reflect on that you also love.

Both self-esteem and self-value are important to our wellbeing and notably our overall self-worth, and when one is relatively used to being recognized in one area, further accolades add little, and their appreciation of the other area may lag. This is why you may have extremely high achievers who don’t appear to recognize their accomplishments, and incredible givers who have become more people pleasing than doing something for themselves. Balancing how you offer recognition gives a rounded sense of self-worth.

Further, learn to do this for yourself too:

If you are a high achiever:

- Recognise the effort you put into the task

- Praise yourself for the time you may have spent learning, re-doing, reflecting to make sure it all worked out

- Appreciate the tough times for the new learning that came out of them

If you are a people pleaser:

- Recognise that although you may be a “soft touch” – people will often be asking you to do something for them because you are good at it.

- Praise yourself for the outcome of what you have done, or at least if others praise you – thank them and hold their words – they don’t need to say it. (I take screenshots or photographs of lovely messages I’ve received.)

- Appreciate the skill or the ability you are doing for what it is. Not everyone can organize; Not everyone can multi-task; Not everyone can cook/sing/act/write/draw and many would love to – so if you have the talent hold it and respect it as something special for itself.

“I'm not looking for somebody With some superhuman gifts Some superhero Some fairytale bliss Just something I can turn to, Somebody I can kiss” (Something Just Like This, Coldplay)

And a secret tip – sometimes it’s about recognising the traits which make someone holistic. Whatever you do, you are also just as important simply being there as spouses, parents, siblings, children and friends.

Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist, leadership consultant and author. Learn more at or follow her on Twitter/IG @draudreyt. Watch her wellbeing show ENERGY TOP UP for practical exercises to build confidence and boost inner strength.

©2019 by Resilient Health: Wellness before the point of crisis.