THE IMPORTANCE OF SAYING THANK YOU
Have you ever taken a moment to think about the power of a thank you?
Thank you for holding the door open.
Thank you for lunch.
Thank you for believing in me.
Thank you for saving my life.
Today, many of us are guilty of doing too much to save time and to economise on energy. Is it our need to move on to the next task quickly that is preventing some of us from pausing, thinking, being mindful – or just SAYING or even RECEIVING a thank you? There will have been times in your life where your “thank you” unwittingly made a huge difference to another human. Likewise, there will have been times where your lack of a thank you will have spoiled someone’s day, or triggered a series of negative reactions.
Saying thank you costs nothing, barely even an effort, but it’s still one of the most important ways that we interact with other people, those we love the most AND complete strangers. That’s versatility for you.
WHERE DOES THANK YOU COME FROM?
‘Thank’ originally comes from the word ‘think’ in English and originally would have meant “I will remember what you did for me”, or in other words, “I am now in your debt”. The interchangeable “much obliged” meant exactly the same thing.
By responding with “my pleasure“, or “you’re welcome” or “no worries” you’re actually saying “chill man, the debt is cancelled and you owe me nothing, because doing this thing for you has brought me reward enough”. Did you know that? You may not have done, but the fact remains, it feels great to hear it and it’s great to say it.
SAYING THANK YOU TODAY
Thankfully, opening the door for someone today doesn’t make them eternally in your debt. But by saying thank you out loud, you acknowledge the person you’re thanking and are respectfully offering gratitude for the words or actions they have performed, no matter how big or small.
The way you say thank you is given more or less power from your body language. Add a smile, a hug, a handshake, intense eye contact – perhaps even all of the above if someone has stopped a piano from falling on your poodle in the nick of time (or similar). Your body language should quite naturally reflect the depth of your gratitude, or ‘debt’.
HUMANS CRAVE THANKS
It’s true – remember this. People want to be thanked.
Most of us really do want to hear someone thank us. Being vocally appreciated is a super-motivator whether at work or at play. We asked on social media what was more important, more money, flexibility, receiving thanks and appreciation at work or regular cake. Guess which one ranked number one? YUP. Cake. (Not really, it was thanks and appreciation). The number of times these studies get carried out leads one to believe that we struggle to accept the evidence as fact. IT’S A FACT.
Receiving thanks (particularly unexpectedly) can do small things like change a person’s day for the better or big things in the manner of butterfly wings and tornados.
WHEN NOT TO BOTHER SAYING THANK YOU
There really is no time not to bother saying thank you. Even if you’ve asked or paid someone to do something for you, say thank you. Even if that person owes you greatly, when the debt is paid, say thank you.
AWKWARD THANKERS AND RECEIVERS
Some people are simply not used to being thanked or praised and don’t know how to act in the face of kindness or generosity of spirit. They may be unsure what’s required of them, say nothing, or in some cases even appear to treat the whole thing as something negative.
In turn these people may may find it hard to give thanks themselves.
Like many things, offering thanks takes practice – just like kindness, compassion and generosity. If you’re an awkward thanker (not actually a word, really) or an uncomfortable thanks receiver, have a think about why, and see if it’s a habit you can start to address.
CRUCIAL DAY TO DAY THANK YOUS
When we see the same people day in, day out, it’s remarkably easy to become overly comfortable with them and start taking them for granted. The nature of this affliction means we usually see it in relationships, with family members AND with close work colleagues. Never assume that people simply know you appreciate the good things they do. Assuming without vocalising or showing your thanks creates a rich breeding ground for resentment.
Nobody wants to feel like part of the furniture.
THE NEGATIVE UNTHANKS
Have you ever regretted not saying thank you, or felt a pang of irritation because someone else failed to say thank you, for example when you opened the door for them? That’s because, at its most basic level, not saying thank you is perceived as pretty rude.
Perhaps it’s because it takes such little effort to smile and say thank you that we can feel offended when we don’t hear it. We’re often quick to moan about others “that work colleague was so rude” or “I gave that homeless person some food and they were so ungrateful”. These small feelings of hurt or grievance just go to show the importance of the words and how it’s so much more than a meaningless reflex.
THE JOYFUL THANKS BRIGADE
It’s not rocket science. People who make a habit of saying thank you often get better service, hang out with people who go the extra mile for them – and they see positive chain reactions appear more frequently. It doesn’t matter how rich, famous or clever you are – the thank you currency has the same value for everyone.
THANK YOU AND PASS IT ON
So, how liberally do you sprinkle your thank you offerings? The fact is that those two words create something truly magical when combined, acting as a shorthand for so much more.
Be generous with your appreciation but also take the time to nurture and educate those who struggle with it themselves, be mindful and thankful for the kind moments in your life.
Everyone benefits from extra doses of kindness directed at them, so proclaim your “thank yous,” “pleasures” and “you’re welcomes” with gay abandon, basking gently in the knowledge that you’re creating luminous bubbles of joyous gratitude wherever you walk.