Friday, September 6, 2013

Saying Thank You and The Power of Appreciation

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One thing about appreciation and saying thank you is the ability for it to make a positive impact on relationships. If there's any danger in most relationships is how very quickly things can become routine, and "Oh wow, you really did this for me? I'm blown away!" becomes "OK, you did this. Neexxxtttt!"

From there on, it's can be a short step to being taken for granted, with all the problems that come with that. But if you show sincere appreciation for even the small things that others do for you - if you're specific not just about what you're thanking them for, but why you're thanking them for it - you not only let them know that you value what they've done, but you also remind yourself of the value of what they've done. This makes it less likely that you'll take them for granted.

Many years ago, when I was still in Uni, I and several room mates were having a lively discussion about the cleaners who cleaned the hostel environs. One of us had observed that in spite of the advanced age of some of them, they still did a meticulous job.

"In fact," he continued, "they should really be thanked for being so diligent about their work."

At this comment, a noisy disagreement broke out. Some guys argued that they were supposed to do this work; they actually being paid - yes, given money - to do this 'meticulous job', they didn't deserve anything above and beyond that. Others countered that argument by saying that by showing appreciation, it would encourage the cleaners do their job better. I instinctively sided with this point of view, but I couldn't help asking myself: what really was the point of saying 'thank you'? Wasn't the money that the cleaners got a show of appreciation, anyway?

Fast forward to the present, and with the passage of the years, I can say that I am much firmer in my appreciation of what thank yous can achieve. I have seen how sincerely showing gratitude a person on the way they look, the words they say or the work they do brings a sparkle to their eyes and a spring to their step. It doesn't even matter whether someone else has already complimented them; the one thing that people seem never to get enough of is sincere appreciation.

There's still that argument that you shouldn't say thank you to someone for doing what they're supposed to do - after all they have done 'nothing special'. The impression then seems to be that appreciation should only be reserved for truly heroic deeds. Well, I don't know about heroism, but what I do know is that if I see someone doing something that makes a material positive difference in my life and the lives of others around me, I want them to keep on doing that thing. And I know that one way I can encourage them to keep on doing what they're doing is to let them know that what they're doing is truly appreciated - no matter how mundane it is, no matter whether it goes above, below or around the call of duty.

You'll notice I've used the word 'sincere' with 'appreciation' a lot. Yes, there is such a thing as insincere and even stupid appreciation. I'm not going to feel anything if someone praises me for my bushy afro - those of you who have seen a picture of me will know why. I'm going to be puzzled if someone says that they like how sharp my elbows are. The thing is, there are things that people care to be recognised about more than others.

So appreciation at its most sincere requires you really taking the time to get to know the person you are thanking; getting to know what things they care about, what those things are all about, and why they care about them. This sounds like hard work, but if you really care about the person you're saying thank you to, then the payoff in the form of a closer, warmer relationship is worth it.

In conclusion, I say long live appreciation and saying thank you! May we continue to use it to season the lives of those near and dear to us. And thank you for reading :)



  1. Thanks for reminding us :)

  2. You're right, any thanks should come from the heart - sincere gratitude above eye service thank you.

  3. Is a good thing 2 have it as a habit .. Always say thank you, show appreciation make it a habit.

  4. And he's back...nice read, kudos!


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