Knowing how to be thankful is one of the most critical skills you can learn at any age. The positives of expressing gratitude go beyond knowing when you should appreciate what others do for you.
There’s a good chance that you don’t offer a “thank you” as often as you should. Most people fit into that category. This express is likely one of the most under-appreciated phrases on our planet today, and it is one that receives rare use as well.
Did you know that it is appropriate in almost any situation to offer an expression of thanks if someone has said or done something that benefits you in any way?
Here are some moments when the positives of saying thank you can turn a good situation into an even better one.
1. You just received a compliment.
There are two ways to ruin a compliment that someone gives you instantly. You can devalue the statement or act with fake humbleness. Most people take one of these approaches because they don’t want to appear smug or arrogant.
When you deflect a moment of genuine praise, then you’re refusing to acknowledge the person who received a positive impression from your actions in the first place. A simple “thank you” in this situation will acknowledge the compliment without appearing cocky.
2. You’re running late for an appointment.
It is never fun to be late for an appointment. This situation causes you to stress out because you’re causing other people to wait. Those other folks are feeling disrespected because you were not there when you promised that you would be. Offering a brief “thank you” when you arrive is absolutely the correct response to the situation.
An apology is helpful as well. How many times have you said something like, “Sorry, I’m late,” when you burst through the door? If you add one simple phrase to that mix, you can accept the time commitment everyone had waiting for you: “Thank you for waiting.”
3. Offer a word of thanks in comfort.
When someone experiences a difficult personal situation, one of the most common responses we offer is, “I understand what you’re going through right now.” Even if that might be true, most people won’t agree with you.
It is already awkward when someone comes to you bearing bad news. Whether it is as a friend or a co-worker, offering a simple “thank you” to acknowledge their trust in you can strengthen the bonds of your relationship. Try thanking them for sharing that information, and then follow it up with an empathetic statement.
Being thankful in this situation will help you to be there for that person without intruding on their personal space.
4. Be thankful when you receive helpful feedback.
There are times when feedback is useless and a waste of time. If someone is negative and critical for the sake of being confrontational, then you can just walk away from that situation.
When you receive something helpful to your circumstances, then offering a word of thanks will express your appreciation for the effort.
It is not unusual to become defensive when your performance comes into question. If you can recognize why the effort is being made in the first place, then you can usually come out of the situation feeling good about yourself. “Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me,” you could say. “I always appreciate feedback that can help me to get better.”
5. Express a grateful spirit when others are unfair.
Let’s say that you don’t have the option to walk away from unfair or negative criticism. One of the best approaches to manage someone who is being mean or vindictive is to offer a simple “thank you” and move on to the next situation. Doing this will neutralize their perception of power in that situation. If you don’t think the problem is a big deal, then there is no way for the issue to grow into a larger argument.
“Thank you for sharing your opinion,” you could say. “I’ll work on making things better the next time.” If you release the need to win every debate, then you are still winning because you stay in control of the way you’re choosing to live your life.
6. You can even be thankful for the unsolicited advice you receive.
It was maybe five years ago. There was a father walking through a grocery store with his four young children. An older gentleman, walking with a cane, marched right up to him. He had some unsolicited advice for that fellow: “Maybe it’s time you went ahead with that vasectomy.”
It was how that father handled the situation that was so impressive. Instead of tearing into the older adult for such a comment, he just smiled at him. “Thank you for the advice,” he said. That was it.
The gentleman clearly wanted to pick a fight, but he didn’t get it. He stood there in the aisle stewing for a minute, and then he bought his items and left the store. There will always be people who have unsolicited advice to offer. Following this approach will instantly defuse the situation.
One Final Time to Say “Thank You”
Whenever you are in doubt about being thankful, then go ahead and thank the person anyway. There is no disadvantage to consider here. If someone wants to be offended because you offered more gratitude than expected, then that says more about them than it does about you.
If you start saying “thank you” more often, then the world is going to become a better place. It might not change everything, but you will notice an increase in positivity in your life.