I’ve been blessed to spend time in a bunch of wonderful countries. Whether it was short stays during vacations or the long backpacking trip I took after graduating college in 1984, travel abroad has been one of the most enriching, enjoyable, and memorable experiences of my life.

I have learned over the years to speak a bit of French (middle school and some high school), a bit of Hebrew (one or two college semesters), and a bit of Spanish (CDs I listened to in my car).

I also know one phrase (sometimes a bit more) of Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, and Italian; because wherever I go, I make sure to learn how to say “thank you”.

Why “thank you”? Because it’s the most important phrase in every language. It’s the one you need most often. Whether you are in a restaurant, a store, a museum, a hotel, or on the street—after nearly every interaction you have, expressing your gratitude by saying “thank you” will be the appropriate thing to do. And saying it in the local language is nice.

What also happens when you say it in the local language is you realize how important the phrase is. How often it comes up. How much of our life depends on the kindness of others.

And besides the obvious, that everyone simply likes to be thanked, being thanked increases the other person’s value. Dan Sullivan of the Strategic Coach explains when you thank someone you are appreciating them. Appreciation means increasing something’s value, like when a stock appreciates.

There is a reason this exchange is so universally familiar:

Parent: “What do you say?”

Child: “Thank you.”

We all recognize the importance of the phrase. We understand if we want others to help us, we need to make them feel good. We need to appreciate them.

What are your experiences? Join the conversation with your comments below…

Efcharisto, tesekkuler, koszonom, grazie, merci, gracias, todah, thank you, and my best regards,