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The value of still being able to say "Thank you"

Published the 05/22/2020 20:15 

Thank you is "used to thank someone, to express gratitude" (from the Treccani dictionary). Going beyond the automatisms of our fast-paced society that have taken away its depth, perhaps this word still has value. A word so simple and at the same time full of strength, strength directly related to the meaning that is imprinted on it. A thank you said in a hurry has a weak, unremarkable, obvious meaning. A thank you pronounced by really stopping to say it or write it is filled with a deep meaning of gratitude, perceived by those who receive it.

We say thank you to a person to recognize their value, we are grateful for all that they have done for us. Whoever says thank you, implicitly tells her that he is indebted to her. Neuro-linguistic programming also pays particular attention to the word thank you and how we respond to it. The relationship with someone who feels indebted to you is delicate, because gratitude can turn into something else negative. When someone says thank you they are putting their gratitude in your hand, in a certain way they are putting themselves a step below you. You should be able to rebalance the relationship, perhaps by answering "you're welcome" or "I enjoyed doing this for you", and allow your interlocutor to reciprocate the pleasure. It's called the law of reciprocity. Maybe when someone says thank you, you say "you're welcome". In this way, besides cancelling the value of the courtesy that you have done to the other person, you implicitly send the message that your courtesy is nothing much, it is something of little value, cancelling in an unpleasant way his thanks, perhaps felt, and consequently the importance that person has for you. In short, rather than rebalancing the relationship, you bring it down to an even lower rung.

Let's go back to the word thank you, because the word takes on even more importance when it comes with special nuances. Nonverbal language is at the heart of what a word means. Say thank you along with a smile and you will give it more power. One day I was at the bank and there was an official with a very serious voice. Although I could hear him being kind, his tone was expressionless. In those days I was reading some NLP books (a very good gentleman, in my opinion, called Paolo Borzacchiello) and I wanted to try just what I had read the night before. When the employee asked me something, I gave him a smile and replied in a friendly tone. I heard with my own ears a smile escape from his lips (they are called mirror neurons, a smile is hard to resist). From then on the conversation was more relaxed and with a lighter tone. At the end I said thank you, as a sign of gratitude, and he even wanted to shake my hand.

A smile and a thank you are powerful ways to win people's sympathy, as long as they are sincere. A thank you becomes even more beautiful and incisive if it is accompanied by a smile.

Paralanguage and non-verbal language are excellent allies for improving public relations. But who doesn't have a way to express themselves visually or audibly? Today our relationships are also in writing, with emails, Social network posts, short messages, blogs... we are full of means to communicate. The amount of textual information we write is a parameter that underlies our professional or friendly communications.

I was prompted to write this article on the value of the word thank you, by a behavior that I noticed in the exchange of messages with other people. My profession leads me to have a sustained exchange of questions and answers with other people every day. Some time ago, after giving a decisive answer to a person, I felt uncomfortable when there was no reaction, no counter-response that acknowledged the value of the answer I had given her. It would have been enough to simply write thank you. Instead, no, none of that, I was just enveloped in an awkward silence. Then I thought about why I expected the value of my help to be recognized with a thank you. In that circumstance I had given the word thank you more weight than the other person had given it. Implicitly, the other person had deemed my help of little value, yet I had made an effort to respond and my response was sincere and to the point. The consequence would have been only one, had I not paused to analyze my reaction: I would not have given any more answers to other people, or at least to that person. A missed thank you was going to generate all this. In the end I just avoided giving too much value to that person's thank you, maybe it was not in his mind to thank me, because according to his perception he had not received what he expected.

Not surprisingly, I want to conclude with an aphorism by Aldous Huxley: "Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted". An aphorism that is a direct result of not saying thank you.

Sometimes it is abused, however Thank you is one of the most valuable words to maintain healthy human relationships and nurture humanity between people. Thank you.