These thoughts have been meandering around my head for a while now, so it wasn’t one incident that specifically brought on this rant, but rather lots of little noticings: WHY DOESN’T ANYONE SAY THANK YOU ANYMORE? This is (of course) a generalisation: there are people who take the time and still have manners, but I’ve noticed that there’s a general trend now where people ask for advice or feedback (on social media, email, or Whatsapp for example), and then you spend time thinking about how you’ll reply. You craft a thoughtful email, get home and look up some contact details, or give them a helpful suggestion on Twitter that you hope will solve their issue. And then? Nothing. It drives me crazy.
Can you recommend someone to build me a new website? Does anyone know a good OT? Who is a great caterer/plumber in my area? If someone takes the time to be helpful, then it seems that the only decent thing to do is to thank that person for their input, or acknowledge them in some way. It’s the same in a work context: if someone has made the effort to get information to you within a very short deadline, or has performed work that far exceeded your expectations, or they’ve simply been complimentary about something you’ve produced, a little thank you goes a long way.
It only takes 30 seconds, but acknowledging that person is not only good manners, it also means they’ll be encouraged by your response, and will be more likely to do more good work next time, or engage with someone else in a more positive manner. It’s a way of spreading some positivity and gratitude around.
This applies too if someone hosts you at their house. They’ve spent time planning a menu, buying groceries, cooking, tidying the house, and they’ll spend time cleaning up once you’ve left. So just drop them a message after the day, saying you appreciated the time and effort they put in (not to mention the cost, because groceries are off-the-charts expensive).
This is especially relevant when receiving gifts. If someone has spent some of their hard earned cash on buying you a gift (or even if they’ve potted a plant from their garden) – they’ve spent time thinking about what you’d like, so not saying thank you for that special bit of thoughtfulness feels a bit thoughtless.
I’m trying to instil this in my kids too. When they get given gifts from friends or family, I ask them to draw a picture or write a thank you card afterwards, and we then takes pictures of the cards and send them via Whatsapp to the appropriate person. This is as much for the recipient of the thank you card as it is for my kids, showing them the thought behind the gift they were given, acknowledging that things cost money, hopefully instilling some gratitude in them. I was brought up writing out letters to say thanks for gifts, but in this day and age of our super efficient Post Office, Whatsapp messages will have to suffice.
One exception is if you’re on a Whatsapp Group and everyone saying thank you would really clog up the airwaves – then it’s okay to remain silent or send a private message to that person. I also understand that famous/more well known people may have more interactions to deal with – I’m not expecting Beyonce to thank every single person who tweets about how much they love her new album;). Plus, there are always circumstances where thank yous are not high priority, like if someone is going through a particularly difficult stage of their lives, and of course that is understandable.
In the general scheme of things, I know that we’re all super busy though and sometimes we just forget to say thank you. And that’s okay. I’m certainly not perfect in this regard, although I’m trying to do better. I just think that we all need to make more of an effort to thank others, spread gratitude, and acknowledge other people. Saying thank you is another way of saying “I see you”, your input matters, you matter in this world.
Or am I just being super old fashioned?! Perhaps this is just a pet peeve of mine, and maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill (and totally overreacting). What are your thoughts on thank yous?
Happy Sundays all,
P.S. I took this image of orange flowers on a staircase in Bali:)