Saying Thank You isn’t always helpful. Here is why.
After greeting all the students as they made their way to their classes, the principal was about to head to his school office when Peter Merrett stopped him and handed him an envelope with the words, “I wanted to thank you.” Surprised at this gesture from a parent, he found an article in the envelope.
I have watched you stand out here every morning and greet or wave to all the students. And not just on the first day since school reopened after the pandemic, but every day so far. It has certainly made not only my son, but all the other children and parents feel safe and appreciated. This is how Peter explained the article he wrote and published about the principal’s behavior to whom he gave a copy of the article.
The principal looked puzzled, with some sort of a expression on his face that this was normal after all. I found this small, special and consistent gesture so impressive that I would like to express my admiration and appreciation, said Peter.
Is saying thank you normal?
Giving attention means paying attention to the other person, noticing him or her, showing respect. I am open and consciously notice my counterpart, his or her words and the mood.
Whether in private or in a work environment, that makes a big difference.
And a simple thank you, perhaps embellished with ‘Thank you, that’s a good idea,’ ‘Thank you for the papers,’ or ‘Thank you for thinking of it’ expresses that we don’t take everything for granted. We are attentive to the other person, instead of just being with ourselves as usual, and register what the person has just done (for us). So, every so often, just tell the other one a heartfelt Thank You!
Probably sounds like this should be normal. But “normal” is, after all, nothing anymore these days.
In a 2018 study on cultural differences in expressions of gratitude published in the Royal Society Open Science, a group of researchers found: When someone asks another person for something, the person asking only thanks the other one 5% of the time. Saying “thank you” seems to diminish. Are we degenerating into rude, boorish, indifferent humans?