Expressing Gratitude Matters Because People Matter
Expressing gratitude is always in style.
Many of us have been the recipients of others' acts of thoughtfulness. Perhaps we have received a tangible gift, or somebody walked beside us through a difficult time in our lives. Beyond simply feeling thankful to those who think of us, it's important to let them know that we appreciate them.
Why Does Expressing Gratitude Matter?
Most people who give don't expect anything in return, including expressions of gratitude. They give because they want the recipient to feel valued and special. Many truly believe that "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
So why does expressing gratitude matter?
Everyone needs to feel appreciated. Gratitude is actually a form of encouragement, and we all need encouragement.
Do you think expressing gratitude matters?
Why Do We Fail to Express Our Gratitude to Others?
We all know how nice it feels when somebody thanks us for a card we sent, a gift we gave, or for offering our support or lending a helping hand. So why do we often fail to express our gratitude to others when we are the recipients of these same acts of kindness?
Here are some excuses we use:
- We “forget.”
- We say we don’t have time.
- We don’t think it matters.
Perhaps we subconsciously believe we deserve to receive gifts. We may be reluctant to acknowledge this or even offended by the idea, but we live in an age of entitlement in which we're conditioned to believe we “deserve” to feel happy and therefore deserve to have anything that will make us feel happy.
We need to realize that nobody owes us anything. Even our parents aren't obligated to support us after we turn eighteen!
Often we overlook the sacrifice behind the gift. We don’t see the time, effort and monetary investment on behalf of the giver.
Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.— Randy Pausch
When Expressing Gratitude, Be Specific
Let the giver know specifically why you appreciated his thoughtfulness. This makes him feel valued for the time and effort he invested in you.
For a card you receive:
Thank you for the funny birthday card you sent me. It made me smile and lifted my spirits after a very stressful day! Thank you for remembering me on my birthday.
The expression of gratitude above describes the card as funny (thus validating the giver’s choice of a card for you). It also specifies how the card made you feel when you received it (thus validating the giver’s thoughtfulness in sending it to you).
For a gift you receive:
Thank you for the gorgeous scarf. The colors are so rich and vibrant. I can’t wait to wear it this winter! Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.
This expression of gratitude describes the scarf as gorgeous (thus indicating that you like it), the colors as rich and vibrant (demonstrating that you notice the color scheme on the scarf), and that you can’t wait to wear it this winter (indicating that you are excited about adding it to your winter wardrobe).
Notice the difference between the two thank you notes below. Which note would you prefer to receive from Kathryn for a mystery book you gave her?
The first thank you note:
Thank you for the gift you sent me. It is nice and I appreciate it.
Thank you again,
How does this message make you feel? This note is basically an acknowledgement that the gift was received. The message sounds forced, though polite, like a note your mother made you write for a gift you received but didn’t like when you were a child.
Now, the second thank you note:
Thank you for the novel you sent me. It looks so intriguing and, as you know, I love mysteries! I look forward to reading it soon!
Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.
How does this message make you feel? This thank you message is clearly more detailed as it describes the type of gift received as well as why it is appreciated. Furthermore, it expresses enthusiasm about enjoying the gift.
Begin the Habit of Expressing Gratitude
Gratitude is an art that needs to be developed. The art of expressing gratitude should be cultivated at a young age. But even if we weren't taught or encouraged to express gratitude when we were growing up, we can still develop the habit now and teach our children to do the same.
Like any other habit, the hardest part is starting.
Make it a habit to thank the giver whenever you receive something. For a card, thank the sender with an email message or a phone call. For gifts or special support, send a hand-written note. Personalize the note by including details about the gift or service and why it meant so much to you.
Keep the sacrifice in mind. Whenever anybody takes the time to give you something, be it their time, support, or a tangible gift, consider the sacrifice behind the gift. Remember that the gift was an investment on their behalf and that they were not obligated to offer this gift to you. They had the option to invest their time or money in other things, but they chose to invest it in you.
Consider the joy the gift has brought you. When somebody thinks of us, we feel valued and special. This alone should motivate us to extend our thanks to the giver!
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.— Meister Eckhart
It matters that we express our gratitude to others because people matter. We all need encouragement, and expressing our appreciation to others for their thoughtfulness towards us is a meaningful way to encourage them.
And when others don’t express their gratitude to us, we can remember that there have likely been countless times in our lives when we did the same.
© 2015 Geri McClymont