Just Say, “You’re Welcome.”
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
Understand the Role that Receiving Gratitude Plays in Your Life…
…and the life of the person expressing gratitude to you. Last week, I mentioned that I’d use the last three days of November — RosieCentral’s Month of Gratitude — to give you some specific ways you can examine and increase gratitude in your life.
The three are:
Gratitude Feelings — Prompts you can use to help acknowledge your feelings when gratitude is expressed to you.
Gratitude Actions — Ideas for gratitude letters, emails, and texts to connect you with others.
Gratitude Journal — Writing prompts you can use to get started.
Think About Gratitude Feelings
Today starts by looking at #1: Gratitude Feelings. This is the most unusual and least discussed of the three. And, as you might guess, use of a gratitude journal is the most frequently mentioned. But I’m saving that for last as I want to end this Gratitude Month by giving you prompts for your journal.
Consider How You Feel
When we think about gratitude, we usually mean expressing our gratitude to others. And that’s good. That’s actually where most research has focused. But I want to offer you a different perspective:
When someone expresses their gratitude to you, what do you say? How do you feel?
If you’re like most of us, you feel a little embarrassed. You don’t want anyone to draw attention to what you have just done.
So you are likely to respond by saying:
“That’s my job.”
Or “It was nothing.”
Or “It’s no big deal.”
Or “Anyone would have done the same thing.”
Or even, “You’re the amazing person, not me.”
In each of these responses, you have minimized what you have done. You have denigrated the other person's expression of gratitude.
The one thing you are not likely to say is the simple:
Or, “Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.”
Let the Relationship Be Balanced
By not acknowledging the thanks—the expression of gratitude to you—you create a lopsided relationship. The other person is on the receiving end of your positive actions, but isn’t given a chance to thank you and/or give back to you. In other words, you deprive them of the positive benefits that accrue when gratitude is expressed.
And when you lessen the value of your actions, it makes the recipient feel you don’t value what you have done. And perhaps, the person will think she or he should also downplay what you have done.
So as we start looking at the ways gratitude influences our life, give thought to how we enable — or disable — others to express their appreciation, their gratitude, to you.
Remember, You Deserve Gratitude Too!
2 Reasons Why We Often Don’t Accept Gratitude
REASON #1: The first reason is quite interesting and makes us re-examine some of our actions. When we decide to do something for a person, we are in control. We choose what we will do and who we will make the recipient of our actions. It is quite the opposite when someone thanks us — expresses their gratitude to us. We are no longer in control. So in a way, passing off gratitude that is extended to us, makes us feel we are still in control. The other person doesn’t get to decide on the expression of gratitude.
Lesson #1: Let others reap the benefits of expressing gratitude. They deserve to have the positive effects of giving thanks just as much as we do.
Suggestion #1: Take 10 minutes, right now, to remember and write down when someone expressed their gratitude to you. What was the circumstance (what you had done for the other person) and how the gratitude was extended to you. How did you respond? What could you do differently next time to enable the person to know that you valued their gratitude?
REASON #2: We keep our relationships on a short leash. We have been hurt in the past and don’t want to open our heart to others. Why put ourselves in a vulnerable place?
So when someone wants to do something for us—even someone we do things for—we may reject the offer. By letting others do something for us, which is often their way of extending their gratitude to you, we feel exposed.
Lesson #2: Open your heart. Be willing to put yourself in a situation where others have the pleasure of giving to you. Don’t save that just for yourself.
Suggestion #2: Take 5 or 10 minutes to think of a time when someone offered to do something for you — and you refused. It might have been something simple like bringing something for a dinner get together OR picking up something at a store for you. You probably felt completely self sufficient and so declined. But open yourself. If you document times where sometime offered to help then you’ll be alert to future offers of help and you’ll be primed to say “Yes. Thanks. I’d really be grateful for that.” These offers may come from family or friends. You don’t need to always be the strong one completely in control. Be open.