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This week, take the “thank you” challenge


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Cecilia Pigg - published on 05/19/20

A recent study shows we undervalue the power of expressing our gratitude.

When someone gives me a gift or does me a favor, I try to say thank you. But, often I’m not sure if I’m saying thank you well. Did they understand how much I appreciated what they did? Did I not say it nicely enough? Maybe it didn’t mean anything to them, so I shouldn’t have even tried.

So, when I stumbled across this recent study about undervaluing gratitude, I was shocked at how insightful it was. The study shows how people like to be told “thank you.” In the study, they had some participants write thank you notes, and then noted that those participants were nervous that the thank you would not go over well. After that, they recorded what the recipients of the thank you notes felt about the thank yous.

Overall, most participants were much more appreciative of the effort that goes into a thank you than the way it was given, and the people who wrote the thank yous did not realize how much their thank you would mean. So, if you’re an over-thinker, and don’t always say thank you because you don’t know how it will be received, don’t think — just express your gratitude!

Here are some every day ways to say thank you …

In an email

Did someone just send you a sweet story or a helpful video? Did someone write you a note that affirmed you or did you receive special information pertinent to you?

In person

At the store or drive-thru, thank employees or other shoppers. At work, thank a coworker for help. With your significant other, be thankful for the small things, especially the things you just assume are “their job” to do. With your kids, notice the little acts of kindness or self-restraint that they manage throughout a day.

Over the phone

Thank the rep for his or her help. Thank your socially distanced family members or friends for being who they are, and all that they’re doing during this time.

Over text or social media

Send a quick thank you reply to thoughtful texts from others. Reply thanks when people reach out in comments or messages online.

In a handwritten note

Many people still write thank you notes for wedding presents, or any kind of present. And sometimes people will write thank yous for invitations. I’ve even gotten a thank you note from someone for inviting them over for a play date. My rule of thumb for thank you notes has been, the more someone’s gift or action touches me, the more I try to write and mail a thank you note by hand. But after reading this study, I might try to write a few more thank you notes than I had previously.

Here are some other ways to say thank you …

Of course, there’s always the classic two-word “thank you.” Say it with meaning and eye contact in person and you can’t go wrong. But you can change it up with one of the following, especially over text or email, when you want to give it some more oomph:

“That made me so happy.”

“I truly appreciate you.”

“What you did moved me.”

“That was really special.”

“What you did/gave me made me feel very loved and taken care of.”

“Your thoughtfulness inspires me.”

So this week, say thank you more. Find at least one situation each day for which you can say thank you. And if you’ve been meaning to write a thank you note for something, even if it happened a while ago, now is the time. I’ve never been offended by a sincere thank you yet—whether it’s days or years after the fact.


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