We often don’t think about the power of “thank you.” It rolls off our tongues automatically, or we hear it without really registering the speaker and their intent. Saying thank you to others is a kindness that makes their gestures feel worthwhile to them.
Hearing “thank you” can make us feel more valuable in this world, give extra meaning to the things we do for others—and even encourages our generosity, making us more likely to be helpful again.
Often, a person who neglects to thank others comes across as entitled. They act as if everyone owes them special favors, preferred treatment and excellent service.
When Should We Say Thank You?
It’s appropriate any time someone adds something to our lives or eases an uncomfortable situation. “Thank you” is always right when we receive:
- Things: Presents, food, items we’ve dropped or are trying to reach.
- Assistance: Opened doors, passed salt and pepper shakers, an explanation of offerings on a menu.
- Kindness: Soothing words in an anxious situation, a chore taken quietly off our hands.
- Advice: Words that help us avoid trouble and mistakes or make our work and creations better.
- Criticism: Words that force us to take a good look at ourselves. Sometimes we need to be thankful for the honest, even painful, truth.
When Not to Say Thank You?
Avoid a thank you when it is dripping with sarcasm. When a child brings you a cookie but drops it before it reaches you: “Thanks a lot” will hurt more than you know. The same goes for treating employees as though an accident was a personal slight. Even if the person was truly careless, sarcasm may make them resentful rather than more careful the next time.
The Best Kinds of Thank You
In our digital age where we communicate by text and e-mail, an actual thank-you note stands out. The recipient knows you had to plan the prose, buy a stamp, address the envelope and get it to the post office. You’re telling this person how much their efforts meant to you.
I have a friend who enjoys the digital “thank you” texts she receives from her children. They never leave it at those two simple words, though. Included is aways a reminder that they love her.
A specific thank-you often has greater value than a general thank you. Saying “thanks” to the person who bags your groceries is kind. Saying, “Thank you for packing all of this into paper bags light enough for me to carry” truly acknowledges thoughtful service. The helpful bagger may make greater efforts the rest of the day to think about what customers want and need.
Thank You Brings Warmth to a Remote-Communication World
Thank you is more important than ever in this era of messaging, emoticons, and Facebook friends. It makes a human connection between two people, and acknowledges they have shared a caring, human interaction.