What I learned from hearing “congratulations”

It’s been a whirlwind of a year (which is why I haven’t been blogging very much).  I sold my tech company, GreenCup, to another woman in tech (YUSSS), and it is bustling.  I traveled to Las Vegas three times to work with my coach.  I spent May in Los Angeles, scouting a possible place to move.  I then received the 40 Under 40 Business Leaders Award, just as my first book, Stories of Elders, made its debut.  As 2018 closes out, I am proud to know that my talk about that book has been accepted to TEDx and I will be kicking off 2019 with massive excitement.

Naturally, I’ve been hearing a lot of “congratulations” from people when I see them at events.  I’m not quite used to people starting conversations with me that way — usually what I have going on is behind the scenes and it’s in catching up that they might give me a pat on the back or a high five.

I realized I should double check how I am saying “thank you” to these congratulatory comments.  I am used to speaking to audiences and know that it’s important to practice a few times in front of the mirror to make sure the facial expressions you *think* you’re making are actually the ones you want to make.  For once I had the presence of mind to use this same principle for my thank yous…  and oh boy.

It turns out, I was wincing when I said thank you!  I obviously didn’t mean to be.  I mean to be showing gratitude and excitement with a dash of humility.  Turns out, that doesn’t look very good on the face.

I decided to try saying thank you with happy smile, instead, even though that felt ego centric.  Turns out, smiling about the good things you have going on in your life translates WAY better than a mash-up of excited humility.

Now, when someone says “congratulations”, I beam, thank them, and allow them to ask more questions if they are curious.  The smile says I mean it, but I don’t let my current events hijack the conversation.  Just as they say, listening is the best way to show gratitude.