Clearwater Record-Ewing News

Thank you.

It’s really a simple gesture, putting pen to paper to let others know you appreciate a person’s thoughtfulness or actions.

If it’s so simple, why do so few write and send notes of gratitude or even verbally express thanks?

Have please and thank you become part of a daily grind? Are they conveyed by habit? Meaningless words uttered or spelled with absence of thought?

According to University of Texas psychologist Amit Kumar, people discount the importance of a simple thank you note.

In a study conducted by Kumar and University of Chicago professor Nicholas Epley, individuals who should be writing notes express concern about the sincerity of the message and underestimate the positive response the communication elicits.

Kumar’s and Epley’s study involved approximately 100 participants in five experiments who were asked to write a short letter of gratitude to someone who made a difference, like offering guidance or helping with a job search.

Most writers were conscientious about word choice and tone, although it generally took participants under five minutes to write notes.

According to the study’s abstract, published in June 2018 issue of Psychological Science, each participant predicted how surprised, happy or awkward recipients would feel when receiving a note.

The biggest takeaway from the study: What’s holding people back from expressing gratitude?

Vulnerability.

A typical knee-jerk response to a vulnerable situation is the need to escape, to avoid anything that threatens a sense of security.

Individuals expressing thanks become vulnerable for several reasons. Truthful emotions are offered and the fear of the unknown response creates uncertainty.

Before you know it, you question if you should begin loop strokes on parchment and end up ditching the idea.

Sound familiar?

What’s still holding you back?

Bad habits.

Sometimes, we tend to forget to count our blessings, slog through our daily routine and don’t even consider expressing gratitude to those who provide guidance and assistance. 

Recipients of the notes were also interviewed, reporting how receiving a note made them feel. 

Overwhelmingly, most expressed appreciation. Several responded they were surprised by the gesture.

I read about the study while I was with Dad at the hospital. In ordinary circumstances, it might not have caught my attention, but I noticed every time a nurse or aide checked on him, Dad thanked them.

After the third time, a nurse finally told him she appreciated his words, because a lot of times, they hear more grumbling than gratefulness.

There’s a strong message for those who shy away from those two little words. 

Being polite doesn’t cost anything. It’s an easy way to let others know how you feel.

You never know what impact you’ll make by simply saying thank you.

And that’s good for everyone’s soul.

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