Thanks for nothing

An alternative perspective

Ah, the provocative title.  Thanks for nothing. Kind of snarky and self-pitying.  But never fear, the story turns out to be a positive one.

When Jennifer Abrams complained to her friend, Shirley, about a hurtful interaction with a colleague that left her feeling weak and small and one which she felt was unfair, Shirley’s response upon hearing the details was priceless.

Unexpected response

“How wonderful to have this experience that on so many levels didn’t cost you much.  I think I would send that person a thank you note if I was you. You won’t put yourself in that position again. What a gift.” It was just the perspective I needed.

As we just celebrated Thanksgiving in the States, I am sending a thank you out to those who I haven’t had the chance to thank.  Because if it wasn’t for that perceived slight or rejection or bruising negotiation with these folks, I wouldn’t be the person I am.

Thank you
  • Thank you to the admin team at my former high school who didn’t select me to be the dean of students the year I applied.  Best rejection I have ever had.  Had I been offered the job I might not have been open to becoming a new teacher coach, written books – all prompted by being told ‘we didn’t pick you for the job.’
  • Thank you to those who told me I shouldn’t teach administrators because I never was one.  After a year of feeling small and not thinking my work was valid for a wider audience, I realized one comment, even one from someone with status, doesn’t need to stop someone from doing something one thinks is helpful and worthwhile.
  • Thank you to those who reviewed my first book and responded, “No coaches should learn how to have hard conversations. Only principals should do that.”  It helped me craft my response to that type of comment and go on to bring humane and growth-producing conversations that are declarative into the main for those who have a coaching role.
  • And thank you to the Mark who in my 30s broke up with me and said, “I am used to dating women with long hair and short skirts and you have short hair and wear pants.  You are a lot of person.”  Best breakup line I have ever heard.  Made me want to be even more of a person.  Thank you, M.
What is the Lesson?

My friend, Pier Angeli, after listening and listening to my tales of woe over the years, said to me once, “Enough with the story. What is the lesson?”  I am seeing the lessons so much more quickly now.  Less time between perceived wound and healing. Less time between disappointment and possibility.  Working on my recovery time every day.

Who do you need to send a thank you note to?


Jennifer Abrams is currently a communications consultant who works across the globe with educators and others on new teacher and employee support, being generationally savvy, effective collaboration skills, having hard conversations and creating identity safe workplaces. Formerly, a high school English teacher and a new teacher coach in Palo Alto, CA (USA).



Jennifer’s publications include:

Having Hard Conversations

The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicate, Collaborate & Create Community

Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, Whens and What Ifs

Her newest book is Swimming in the Deep End: Four Foundational Skills for Leading Successful School Initiatives

More about Jennifer’s work can be found at her website,, and she can also be found on Twitter @jenniferabrams.

Jennifer Abrams on having hard conversations:


Feature Image: marselelia from Pixabay