Be polite, show your manners and above all else, say “please” and “thank you.”
The virtues drilled into us as children may have once been seen as paramount, but who could have predicted that these many expressions of thanks would eventually lose their meaningful touch?
Today, perhaps because we are so used to saying the golden words, we sometimes forget to fortify our thanks with actual thankful behaviors. Too often, we follow up our verbal thanks with actions that show just about anything but gratitude — whether by rebuffing our parents’ attempts at a conversation after thanking them for a bank deposit or thanking service employees only to leave a messy table for them to clean up minutes later.
Of course, if you’re in a professional environment, even that minimal “thanks” might be a lot to ask for. When it comes to writing effective work emails for example, employees are advised against thanking too much in order to avoid being overly solicitous. In 2012, a John Templeton Foundation survey of more than 2000 working adults found that only 10 percent said thanks to a colleague every day, further illustrating that our daily lives are lacking in demonstrations of gratitude.
This is disheartening, especially when one considers just how beneficial a true show of thanks can be. According to a 2015 study conducted by the University of Georgia, expression of spousal gratitude was the single best predictor of marital quality. If couples can benefit from expressing thanks to one another, it only follows that friends, classmates and colleagues should be able to as well.
Showing more gratitude may be as simple as saying thanks where thanks is deserved in tandem with actions and behaviors that echo that sentiment.
It might mean calling your parents and spending more time with them to show your gratitude for just how helpful they are instead of offering a quick and breezy “thank you” every time they fork over money.
It might mean participating more in class, lending a hand when needed or cleaning up your trash in the dining hall, making employees’ jobs a bit easier.
Of course, verbally offering your thanks is hardly a paltry act. In fact, when combined with thankful behaviors, it can go a long way. In any case, it’s the very least you can do to show your appreciation when other methods fall short.
This Thanksgiving, take some time to reevaluate how you show your thanks — it might just be one of the most effective strategies for work, friends and relationships around.
Grace Wehniainen is a freshman majoring in journalism.
Featured image courtesy Pixabay user herblady28