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Five Ways to Give Thanks Better

Get Great at Sharing Gratitude

As we head into November and the holiday season, there’s 1000 things to think about. Presents, decorations, gatherings, food, how much you’re going to have to hit the gym after the food. With all that in your head, it’s easy to forget that the holidays–broadly–are for giving thanks for family and friends and to family and friends.

There are people out there who are true professionals at sharing gratitude. They intuitively know how to hand out thanks and when. What luck. For the rest of us, here are five ways to give thanks better, which can be applied to your personal or professional life.

1. Focus on Quality Over Quantity

There’s a fact largely forgotten in modern society and that’s that a cheeseburger after a hard-day’s work tastes better than a steak after a day on the couch. A reward cheaply gotten is cheaply received. The same rule applies to gratitude and gifts.

Deluging a person with thank yous for every little thing they do is almost as bad as giving no thanks at all. So, how do you find a happy middle ground? Here’s one yardstick to use: Was the action done specifically for you? Did it require actual effort or a specialized skill? Finally, can you pick out specific parts of the action taken that were commendable?

2. Be Specific with Thanks

Compare and contrast these statements: “Thanks!” and “Dude, thanks so much for helping me haul this fridge up three flights of stairs. You’re a lifesaver.” One of these is clearly better than the other and (hint) it’s not the single-word one. It’s almost always better to engage both the thing done and the degree of difficulty/assistance rendered when giving thanks.

Specificity in your thank you is a social mechanism that shows your helper that you’re fully aware of the effort they’ve put forth in helping you. Make this gratitude tip a part of your daily toolkit and you may be surprised how receptive people are to being thanked this way.

3. Gratitude Now AND Later

There’s no need to keep score of who has done what for you or when. However, there is a powerful phrase we should all probably be using more in our day-to-day life. “Hey, thanks again for…” Remembering someone’s assistance until your next interaction with them and thanking them again–and again with specificity–proves that your gratitude is deep and not temporary.

Ask yourself who you’d rather go out of your way to help. A person who remembers other ways you’ve helped them or a person who has a “what have you done for me lately” attitude? It’s pretty obvious what we’d all prefer. So, that’s what we should model our own actions on.

4. Give Back

Always, always, always be willing to help those that help you. And, make sure this isn’t just a willingness, but an active pursuit. Actively reach out and ask the people around you what they could use help with.

Make your “thank you” active by passing it on. Giving back, if you will. Not only is this going to boost your interactions with coworkers and friends, but it can have a cascade effect that results in a stronger workplace, family, neighborhood, you name it. That’s something that benefits everyone.

5. Put It In Writing

The “Thank You” card is nearly an anachronism at this point. It’s largely relegated to wedding gift thank yous in the personal sphere and things like home sales in the professional sphere. It doesn’t have to be. A “Thank You” card could be sent for virtually anything and the very fact that it is rare is going to make it more impactful.

With a little time spent making the thank you card specific and focused as detailed above, it can put a smile on the recipient’s face and put you in the top of their thoughts.

Everyone could use giving and getting more gratitude in their lives. Hopefully, with the help of these tips, we can give more thanks and better thanks. As the season of thanks comes around, try out some of these tips in your life and see if you can make your world a bit brighter.


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