As if we didn’t already know this by it how it makes us feel when we receive an unexpected thank-you, a new University of Chicago study published in the journal Psychological Science confirms it: A little thank-you does indeed have positive consequences.
The authors of the study set out to discover if there was any truth behind thanks givers’ belief that a thank-you isn’t all that important. They found the opposite: A thank-you benefits both the giver and the receiver.
Think about the last time you received a genuine note of thanks. Did it make you sad? You may have shed tears of joy at the words you read, but more than likely, the sentiment put a smile on your face.
Now put yourself on the giving end. When’s the last time you wrote a message of appreciation for someone? And how did that make you feel? In all honesty, you probably did it out of a genuine heart, not to try to produce a certain result.
And therein lies the key to a thank-you that goes the distance: It has to be genuine.
Two Minutes to Spare
The funny thing about giving thanks is that it doesn’t take much time to do, but it can leave a lasting impact. Just by taking two minutes — sometimes not even that long — to jot down a note of gratitude can make a world of difference for the receiver.
Maybe that person is going through a difficult time and could really use the encouragement. Maybe he or she is second-guessing a recently made important decision. We don’t always know what’s going on in one’s psyche when we set out to deliver a message of this potential magnitude, but we don’t need to.
If we’ll make a point to take advantage of the opportunities we have to thank those around us, this world will be a much better place.
You don’t even have to know the person to be thankful for the part they’ve played in your life. It all stems from the heart. A co-worker of mine has been making a difference in her sphere of influence just by being aware of her surroundings and noticing when someone can use a pick-me-up. It’s that simple.
We have a platform at my workplace called Recognize where we can publicly send a note of praise to a co-worker. In that channel, genuine thanks may be more unattainable as it can appear we’re trying to gain recognition for ourselves by making the note public.
But more often than not, if we’re truly thankful to someone for some reason, why wouldn’t we want to make that public and let others chime in? That extra boost may be just what the recipient needs.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"