Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why "thank you" matters

When people do things for me, I try to always remember to thank them.  Whether what they're doing is holding open a door, cooking a meal, or giving me a present, I say, "Thank you."  Even if the action is part of the person's job--a waiter serving a dish at a restaurant--I say, "Thank you."  I believe that this small courtesy, this tiny societal norm, is vital.

I don't hold this belief, however, simply because I was brought up to behave this way (I was) or because it is (or, at least, it was) a normal part of civil social discourse.

No, I cling tightly to the importance of this simple phrase because it acts as a reminder to each of us to be grateful, to be genuinely thankful for what others do for us.

Gratitude is so very easy to avoid.  Is it really, after all, necessary?  We did it ourselves. We worked hard.  We earned it.  We paid for it.  We deserve it. 

Except, of course, that we almost never do anything entirely by ourselves, or earn something entirely on our own.  Yes, we may pay for a service, or we may feel that we deserve something from someone else, but in the end the others have the choice not to participate, not to perform the service or give us the thing, and we should be grateful when they act for us.

I'm constantly surprised by how few people these days seem to share my feelings in this area.  Maybe it's always been this way and I just thought things were different.  Dunno.

What I am sure of is that we could all stand to be more grateful and to show that gratitude regularly.


J. Griffin Barber said...

Thank you.

Mark said...

I'm not sure for what you are thanking me, but, sir, you're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Some times though I feel like if I say "Thank you." for smaller things it's just going to come out sarcastic so I go with thanks or the simple head nod. But thanks almost always sounds sarcastic unless you make it heart felt and head nods get really awkward when your not sure if people noticed them or not.

I mean come on just look at J. Griffin Barber's post. When blatant thanks are not implied sarcasm sort of is.


Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with you. Lately, I'm making a point of saying "Thank you for working today" when I go through the grocery checkout line on a weekend night, or in the fast food drive-through on a Sunday morning, etc. - because it's all too easy to take the convenience (and the people providing it) for granted. Usually, these dear people are touched that "somebody noticed;" the other day a young lady told me I "made [her] day." It doesn't take much to lighten the load for folks in these demanding, and often thankless, jobs. It's sad, really: when the slightest amount of kindness and civility is so noticeable, what does that say about our society? On the other hand, in that context, it doesn't take much to make a difference for the good. :-)
- old aggie

Mark said...

I agree about both the sad state of civility in our society and how easy it is to make a difference with a little kindness.


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