How do you respond?
“No problem.” “Anytime.” “Don’t mention it.” “Think nothing of it.” “It’s no bother.” There are countless variations on this theme. Many of us respond in like.
Let’s analyse the “no problem” for a moment. What does this mean? “The event you are thanking me for was not difficult for me” (thereby implying the ‘thank you’ is unwarranted). While you are vaguely acknowledging the thanks, you are equally vaguely rejecting it.
How else could you respond?
“You’re welcome.” “It’s my pleasure.” “You’d do the same for me.” “Happy to help.”
Now we’re implying that there is worth to your actions and appreciation for the other’s recognition of your efforts.
Is It Really Such A Big Deal?
Simply put, yes. When I consider how people’s responses over the years have made impressions on me, I don’t remember the countless “sure thing” or “it’s cool” responses. I remember the rambling gratitude of a student who I helped pass her Modern Hebrew GCSE examinations; the mother of a GirlGuide who introduced me to her friend as ‘the most incredible 20-something [she’d] ever met’; the warm hug of a friend for whom I had babysat all night while she was in labour.
Now that said, all those events required an unusually high amount of effort from me. I spent hours tutoring Hebrew, planning and running Guide programmes, and putting excitable children to sleep. Of course, if someone was asking me for a tissue, directions, or to borrow a pen, it may really be no bother. In such a case, when “thank you” is often shortened to “thanks” or “cheers,” and little to no effort is involved in the first place, such a response is suitable. But when you have input significant effort, don’t devalue it by acting nonchalant! This robs the giver of their significance and importance, and receiver of their appreciation.
An Attitude of Gratitude
Recognising when and how to respond to gratitude is only one part of the bargain. Another part, as I mention above, is knowing when to say “thank you kindly,” and when to say “cheers!” (or a variation of each phrase).
The less considered final part is is as follows: when do we say thank you without provocation? I.e. at what point should I express gratitude even if it does not immediately follow an action?
It may seem a tall order, but I think this is something that ought to be practised daily. Many months ago, my husband and I started actively searching for something at the end of each day to say ‘thank you’ for. It could be as big or small as we liked; from ‘thank you for cooking dinner’ to ‘thank you for your wake-up call’ to ‘thank you for pouring me a whiskey’ (granted I haven’t said that one often!) Although it may sound forced, we never felt like we were struggling to find something to be grateful for.
This habit has evolved and developed as we have grown throughout our marriage and sometimes we say things along slightly different themes, ‘I appreciate that you surprised me with a romantic dinner,’ or ‘thank you for not being upset when I took that call mid-date-night.’
I’m sure there are an array of benefits that I haven’t raised to having an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ but I can personally vouch for it contributing towards having a more positive outlook (every night I go to bed with a smile on my face), a closer relationship with my partner (not the least because we regularly point out the things we like the other one to do for us), and a more patient and tolerant mindset (when I’m in a good mood, I’m more likely to wait calmly if Mr Starbucks messes up my order and needs to remake it).
Try it yourself! Do you feel strange practising it aloud? Start a gratitude journal; remind yourself at the end of each day what you have to be thankful for. Trust me, you will not regret it!
More mindfulness and wellbeing tips can be found in my motivational calendar for 2019.
Whether reflecting on experience, or looking forward in anticipation, every day is an opportunity to do something positive. TV psychologist & author Dr Audrey Tang (43) and creative writer & millennial business blogger Rachel Gordon (23) have teamed up to inspire your 2019 – whatever your age!
We have recently released a charity edition within the Mindful Motivations range, from which all proceeds will be donated to the children’s mental health charity Place2Be. Please purchase a calendar to help us support this worthwhile cause.