When I was little, people would always compliment my parents on raising such a polite child. I would always say please and thank you. I was taught to share or offer to share, much to my chagrin. I usually didn’t like to share.
Being such a polite person I was incredibly shocked when my friend and co-worker, Elizabeth, corrected me one day about accepting a compliment. I was wearing something I was really proud of–it looked expensive, made me look good, and it was a bargain (to be honest, this incident was 10 years ago, and I don’t remember what it even was…we will say it’s a dress). Anyway I was wearing something amazing, and my fashionista friend (Elizabeth) complimented me on my dress. I quickly said Thank You and then began to recount the excitement of the purchase, how I found it at Target, on sale. I started to ramble on a little bit about the value of the dress and excitement of the find, when she stopped me. She told me just to take the compliment. I felt a bit scolded as I took this in. I was excited that I had made a good choice and I wanted to recount all of the lead up to the marvelous choice. I will not forget what she said to my retort: “Just take the compliment. It demeans the compliment as well as the person complimenting you by saying any more than a thank you. If someone wants to know more, they will ask.”
This one incident put so much perspective on my view of thank you. I listened and watched as others I came in contact couldn’t just accept a thank you. Most women when complimented by others they would go into the epic story of the compliment item’s procurement. Most men seemed taken aback when they were complimented on a wardrobe choice, but just said thank you.
Both men and women when thanked for a task would reply with alternatives to “you’re welcome” like: no problem, any time, sure, of course, and my usual go to: no worries. Sometimes explanations would happen at this point.
Why can’t we just take a simple thank you and reply with a simple you’re welcome? Or why can’t we just accept a thank you, why do we need to give an explanation.
Power. We give you’re welcome so much weight, so formality. But in reality, it’s just a way to accept a transaction of gratitude.
Its just a way to accept a transaction of gratitude.
And there it is. Many of us cannot accept gratitude. Every time I get on the bus, I thank the driver–it’s sort of silly, but I am thankful: thankful that he or she was there to do their job that day, to pick me up, and to deliver me to my destination safely. I do the same thing with riding in cars, whether it’s a paid ride or not. Again, my parents brought me up to be polite.
I think my confusion in this whole thank you phenomenon is that we don’t use thank you enough. People aren’t used to compliments or gratitude as much. We have become a society so fixed on getting from one place to another, getting information so quickly at our fingertips, and having things just brought to us or arriving when we demand, that it has slipped our mind when we should have gratitude, let alone when we show extra.
Working steadily as a nanny and babysitter for the last 4 years (and on and off before that) has made me very aware of gratitude. Being an actress in a city of millions of actors has made me grateful when I actually get the chance to audition, and even more grateful when I get to perform. Being a friend in a city where there are thousands of daily diversions make me thankful when I can actually sit down face to face with my friends. Writing this blog has brought to my attention that there are so many things I’m thankful for, but don’t express my gratitude.
There are so many things I’m thankful for, but don’t express my gratitude.
I realize that it should be second nature, but a good review of when and how to use Thank You is always good! I’m sure I’m forgetting things, and feel free to comment on the blog or email them to us, but here is a broad guide:
1. If someone is doing something for you, alleviating or lessening your responsibility: say thank you
2. If someone helps you out, whether you’ve asked for it or not: say thank you.
3. If you’re complimented on something: ONLY say thank you. If they want to know more about whatever they complimented you on, they will ask.
4. When someone says thank you, acknowledge that they are thankful by saying you’re welcome. Other responses lessen the gratitude. It will also remind people to thank you and others more often.
5. If someone forgets a thank you, it’s ok to remind them, in a non passive aggressive way. If they haven’t said it, give them a moment or two. If they don’t, you can gently remind them. Do this by giving a simple and honest you’re welcome.
6. Make eye contact. Gratitude is taken more seriously and has more weight when you look someone in the eye, or at least in the general direction of their face when said.
7. Over use the words thank you and you’re welcome for a bit. The more you use them, the more natural it becomes. It’s also a great way to start a pay-it-forward chain. It’s amazing how much you can turn someone’s day around with gratitude.
The great part is, you’ll start to find how far please and thank you and you’re welcome and compliments will take you. Not to give away my secrets, but if you’re trying to get something or someone to help you, start by using a compliment or a thank you for whatever they’re already doing. It’s amazing how much appreciation greases the wheels!
Thank yous are needed and appreciated. Deep breaths and thank yous will take you far in life. Take a look around you. Say a general thank you to the positives in your life. Do this to whatever deity you do or don’t believe in. Even a thank you to yourself is a great thing. Appreciate that you are who you are and where you have come.
Thank you, Elizabeth for turning my head all of those years ago. Thank you to my parents for making me use please and thank you.
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